200m takedown requests later, BPI tells Google: this is getting silly

UK record label association the BPI will this weekend pass the milestone of 200m takedown requests sent to Google for removal of copyright-infringing links.

The body, which represents Universal, Sony and Warner as well as some significant independents in the market, sent its first takedown request to Google in July 2011.

UPDATE: A Google spokesperson told MBW: “We’ve reviewed more than 80 million alleged links to pirated content in the last month alone, and we have refined our algorithm to demote sites that receive high numbers of copyright takedown requests.

“But search is not the primary problem – all traffic from major search engines accounts for less than 16% of traffic to sites like The Pirate Bay.”  

According to a report by Torrentfreak, 2015 saw over 558m takedown requests sent to Google on copyright grounds, with the BPI at the top of the list with 65m within the year.

The rights-holder rep is understandably getting tired of sending such notices, and calling for a more permanent solution – primarily that when an offending link has been removed following a takedown request, it stays removed permanently.

In a press release, it writes: ‘This high-volume take-down helps to limit the amount of illegal content being promoted, giving legal music services such as Amazon, Apple, Spotify and Deezer a better chance of appearing at the top of search results when fans are looking for music online. 

“While this approach has contributed to some improved visibility of legal services, illegal results that are taken down by Google are frequently replaced by other illegal links, which means that legal services continue to be overshadowed by infringing sites in the very top search results. 

“This damaging situation can only be remedied by Google themselves changing strategy and pro-actively pursuing a “notice and stay down” approach, so that once a piece of content has been notified for removal by the BPI, it isn’t indexed again for the same site and stays removed.”

With Google staunchly refusing to do just that, the UK Government has apparently set up a round table to try to reach voluntary agreement to fulfil its manifesto commitment to “work to ensure that search engines do not link to the worst offending sites”.

The BPI has called for a series of measures as part of that process:

  • A lower threshold for the number of notices required to de-rank an illegal site and transparency over that threshold;
  • Improved discoverability of genuine sites to help consumers towards legal content;
  • Automatic de-listing of sites that have been ruled illegal by the High Court;
  • Action to prevent illegal sites avoiding demotion by swapping domain;
  • “Notice and stay down” – once a piece of content has been notified for removal, it should not be indexed again for the same site.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI & BRIT Awards, said: “The BPI believes that people who make music or other entertainment deserve to be rewarded for their work and creativity. Only when consumers support legitimate sites can labels, studios and broadcasters consistently invest in the best talent to make high quality entertainment we can all enjoy.

“The notice and take-down system, as currently structured, cannot represent an effective response to piracy and requires urgent reform. Internet intermediaries like search engines clearly need to take more active responsibility to stop directing business to the black market.

“We are calling on Google and Bing to show their undiluted commitment to artists and the creative process by implementing a more pro-active solution to illegal sites appearing in search results. This will avoid the cost for both of us in dealing with hundreds of repeated notices for the same content on the same illegal sites”.Music Business Worldwide

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