Google is letting its users know what copyrighted materials are being infringed upon through its search service.
Google officials said it will expand its Transparency Report, which shows what information is accessible on the company's services around the world. The report has a copyright report feature that discloses the number of requests the company gets from copyright owners and the organizations that represent them to remove Google Search results because they allegedly link to infringing content.
The report discloses data from July 2011 onward, with planned updates each day. As more copyrighted content moves online, the number of requests for removal that Google has received has skyrocketed, with more than 250,000 requests each weekmore than what copyright owners asked Google to remove in all of 2009. Around 1.2 million requests have been made on behalf of more than 1,000 copyright owners in the last month alone, targeting some 24,000 individual sites, the company reported.
Fighting online piracy is very important, and we dont want our search results to direct people to materials that violate copyright laws. So weve always responded to copyright removal requests that meet the standards set out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Fred von Lohmann, Googles senior copyright counsel, wrote in a company blog posting. At the same time, we want to be transparent about the process so that users and researchers alike understand what kinds of materials have been removed from our search results and why.
Von Lohmann also noted the company is keeping vigilant when it comes to erroneous requests, citing a rejected request by an organization representing a major entertainment company, which asked Google to remove a search result that linked to a major newspapers review of a TV show, despite the fact that there was no infringing content. Google is also aware of removal requests based solely for anti-competitive purposes.
"We try to catch these ourselves, but we also notify Webmasters in our Webmaster Tools when pages on their Website have been targeted by a copyright removal request, so that they can submit a counter-notice if they believe the removal request was inaccurate, von Lohmann wrote. Transparency is a crucial element to making this system work well.
Google regularly receives requests from copyright owners and reporting organizations that represent them to remove search results that link to material that allegedly infringes copyrights. Each request names specific URLs to be removed, and Google lists the domain portions of URLs requested to be removed under targeted domains. The company said 1,255,402 copyright removal requests have been received for Search in the past month, 24,374 of which were targeted domains, led by file-sharing and torrenting sites like Filestube.com and Torrentz.eu.
The data presents information specified in requests Google received from copyright owners through their Web form to remove search results that link to allegedly infringing content. It is a partial historical record that includes more than 95 percent of the volume of copyright removal requests that they have received for Search since July 2011. However, Google noted it does not include requests submitted by means other than our Web form, such as fax or written letter or requests for products other than Google Search, such as requests directed at YouTube or Blogger.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.