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    Huge Volume Increases and Updates to Google Transparency Report

    Adam Holland, December 13, 2012

    Abstract: Google updates their Transparency Report, and reveals that the volume of notices they receive has increased exponentially.
    Not only is there a lot more data, there is new granular information about it, and it's now possible to download it.



    As everyone probably realizes, Chilling Effects has a lot of takedown notices from Google in its database. That's because Google gets a lot of takedown requests. But what you may not realize is that the number of notices they have received, and have been sending to us has skyrocketed recently, reaching 2.5 million per week as of mid December.
    What's more, Google anticipates that this number will continue to grow at similar rates, perhaps reaching perhaps as many as 30 million per month within a year.


    This is interesting on several levels. One could argue that the DMCA process is working as intended, in that there are these millions of infringements, and links on Google to them, and now the owners of the rights to the content have a quick and easy way to handle the problem.

    Of course, we know that can't be completely true, and that in fact, a lot of serious mistakes are made, even by seasoned industry giants when it comes to issuing takedown notices.

    Another way to look at might be to conclude that something is wrong, maybe even very wrong, with the state of the law and of society's behavior within its constraints, if Google alone receives 10 million reports of alleged copyright infringement per month. Does that make sense? Is there any other area of law where there are even close to that many violations? One for every thirty American citizens per month? I'm skeptical.

    The accuracy or sensibleness of these numbers aside, there's also their timing.
    Readers who follow tech policy will recall the late 2011-early 2012 debate surrounding the SOPA treaty. Some readers will recall, or may even have participated in, the January 18, 2012 service blackout.

    From the perspective of SOPA's opponents, the internet-- or at least significant portions of it--mobilized itself to defeat what would have been a staggering overreach on the part of government, all in the name of international harmonization.
    Further SOPA debate was postponed on January 20, 2012, and most see it as effectively dead, although alternatives have sprung up.

    As TechDirt and others point out, one of the central pillars of the rightsholders' argument in favor of SOPA was that they needed better enforcement tools against piracy, since the existing ones weren't working. An example of this, of course, was links on Google to infringing content.

    But here's the thing. This steep increase in notices to Google looks to have started around mid-spring, 2012, after SOPA was defeated. Unless alleged copyright infringement went through the roof at the same time, the situation on the ground didn't change, so why the increase? Further, even if infringement did grow commensurately, it seems clear that the rightsholders have a tool they are willing to use to deal with it, the DMCA and its notice and takedown regime. So it's hard to see the complaints about "lack of enforcement tools" as anything other than fear-mongering in order to be granted even more power and control.

    Something perhaps to keep in mind the next time we see industry Chicken Littles in front of Congress.
    [TorrentFreak implies in this article that the reason for the increase in notices may be the publication of the Transparency Report itself.]


    In related news, Google has recently taken two important steps with respect to their Transparency Report.

    First, you can see who made requests with more granular takedown data , showing actions taken on notices.
    For example, this takedown request from Microsoft resulted in this page on the Transparency Report. You can see by scrolling down that some requested links were not removed.

    Second, the data is available for download.

    NB: Much of what is on offer in the Transparency Report is currently available at Chilling Effects, and we intend of have all of it, and more, available once our database modernization is complete. We welcome inquiries about research initiatives using the Chilling Effects database.

     


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