Microsoft claims ownership of the number 45, asks Google to censor the US government and Bing

A series of monumentally sloppy, automatically generated takedown notices sent by Microsoft to Google accused the US federal government, Wikipedia, the BBC, HuffPo, TechCrunch, and even Microsoft Bing of infringing on Microsoft's copyrights. Microsoft also accused Spotify (a music streaming site) of hosting material that infringed its copyrights. The takedown was aimed at early Windows 8 Beta leaks, and seemed to target its accusations based on the presence of the number 45 in the URLs. More from TorrentFreak's Ernesto:

Unfortunately this notice is not an isolated incident. In another DMCA notice Microsoft asked Google to remove a URL and on several occasions they even asked Google to censor their own search engine Bing.

The good news is that Google appears to have white-listed a few domains, as the BBC and Wikipedia articles mentioned in the DMCA notice above were not censored. However, less prominent sites are not so lucky and the AMC Theatres and RealClearPolitics pages are still unavailable through Google search today.

As we have mentioned before, the DMCA avalanche is becoming a bigger problem day after day.

Microsoft and other rightsholders are censoring large parts of the Internet, often completely unfounded, and there is absolutely no one to hold them responsible. Websites can’t possibly verify every DMCA claim and the problem will only increase as more takedown notices are sent week after week.

Microsoft DMCA Notice ‘Mistakenly’ Targets BBC, Techcrunch, Wikipedia and U.S. Govt


  1. Doesn’t the DMCA have a “good faith” provision to hold indiscriminate or fraudulent takedown spammers responsible? Seems that filing a bogus takedown notice would not only expose you to civil liability but possibly also to perjury charges (or whatever the charge would be for knowingly filing false paperwork with the court.)

    1. Pure lip-service. It’s about as effective as the SEC. Microsoft has nothing to worry about, nothing will ever happen to them for anything like this.

      1. would at least be fair if Google would take down links to bing, after such an incisive request.

    2. The only thing you have to swear to on penalty of perjury is that you are the copyright holder or represent the copyright holder of the allegedly infringed whatever-it-is.  The act requires that you have a “good faith” belief that the URL(s) you are filing a complaint against actually infringes your copyright in some way, but that isn’t sworn under penalty of perjury, and there is no penalty, not even the slightest, if you get that wrong or just lie through your teeth.

      I could file a DMCA complaint against Boing Boing, or against Microsoft, alleging that this very page infringes the unpublished fragments of a novel I tried to write 20 years ago, and while the complaint would be completely bogus no penalty would be possible.

    3. In a perfect world, yes. But, Microsoft is a very rich company. To catch you up to speed, any person or company that is super-rich or powerful is either above the law or has legal ways to ignore the law (including our own president). Welcome to the 21st century where the law (& constitution) is meaningless to those who have money & power.

  2. Hey, if this is true how about we, the internet at large, start sending mass-generated bullshit claims to Google, youTube, and everyone else to block anything and everything – force Google to whitelist every site on the internet for getting too many false positive – problem solved!

    1. Only corporations won’t be charged with perjury for illegitimate DMCA takedown notices. Individuals who knowingly send illegitimate DMCA takedown notices will likely be charged. After all, how many lobbyists and lawyers do you have?

  3. The full notice. It includes the quote:

    Participants in the Trusted Copyright Removal Program have previously agreed to these SWORN STATEMENTS
    I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described in all notifications submitted through the Program as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. The information in all notifications submitted through the Program will be accurate, and I swear, under penalty of perjury, that with respect to those notifications, I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

    I also noticed a lot of game reviews. This is ridiculous.

    1. “Good faith” here will be interpreted to mean that the programmer(s) who wrote the flagger didn’t mean for it to be used to take down non-infringing material. Game, set, and match.

    2. I posted a slightly longer bit up above, but just to emphasize it:
      In the passage you quote, note carefully the structure of those clauses – the only thing being sworn under penalty of perjury is that you are the copyright owner or are authorized to act on behalf of a copyright owner.

      Everything else is on the honor system, and we all know how well that works once money, greed, and corporations are involved

      1. Good Faith is probably a legal term, right? Without any penalties for breaking it, unlike committing perjury.

  4. i’ve occasionally thought that some modern Clarence Darrow could make the case (in court) that some IP suit hinged upon a company’s ownership of a number.  “Because (ladies and gentlemen of the jury) isn’t the latest Justin Bieber song in mp3 form just an (albeit large) binary number??”

    and now this; if ownership of 45 is declared, then there’s little hope for 19857968…643.

    1. It has been well-known for years that this is the case.  When there is no penalty for getting it wrong, why bother to include intelligent judgement?

  5. We really don’t expect anything intelligent to come out of Redmond anymore. Now that they have copyrighted everything in the universe, all they have to do is sit around and husband their intellectual properties.

  6. And we are supposed to respect copyright when it only benefits corporations and they are allowed to send out what amounts to a a waste of electrons of a notice.

    Until there are actual penalties the system will not get better.  They have a system that cost the least and is accepted, why do they need to make sure its correct?

    If you reported someone to the authorities in this manner you’d get arrested, but a major corporation can send out these chicken little claims over and over and not a damn thing happens.

  7. Maybe they thought Spotify was broadcasting a torrent of an .iso of Windows 8 by playing music that had bird song in it?

  8. For every DMCA takedown you send that wasn’t made in good faith (such things as just grepping for the number 45 in the URL) you should be fined, oh, I don’t know, a *lot*. It’d stop real quick.

    1. “good fait” just means you THINK you are correct. Remove that and make it “if you send a take down notice without being able to prove (notice PROVE, not SHOW) you are the lawful copyright holder”…..then you get slapped with fines proportional to the number of violations and your gross annual income.

  9. ” Microsoft and other rightsholders are censoring large parts of the Internet” …

    Incorrect in this case: Microsoft sent a bogus censorship request, and Google implemented it. Google needs to add sanity checks. Florian’s suggestion for fines would also be a good idea.

  10. Maybe companies, like Google, who get sent DMCA takedown notices should employ a reputational model, where based on the number of incorrect DMCA notices sent from a given source, the reputation of that source diminishes and they have to jump through additional hoops before those notices are accepted.

    Requiring valid signatures signed off by someone who will accept legal costs for missent notices, requiring them to be sent by post, requiring a valid human confirmation before action is taken, etc.

    Start off with a score of 100 and knock off a point for every incorrect DMCA. Add points back on after a penalty period, or earned after every x number of correct notices sent.

    1.  Since the notices are autogenerated by the ukujillion, their rep should be in the hole in a matter of seconds.

  11. Reminds me of a fun time I had with MS’s code-sanitizing organization.  They’re tasked with scrubbing offensive words and images from all their products, to ensure nobody anywhere ever gets offended by anything.  Not sure who ran it, but I’d guess a combination of HR, legal, and a couple high school interns.

    Their automated tool flagged the two-letter combination “pd” in some random binary file I dealt with.  I guess that means “pedophile” in French or something, but it took weeks to convince them that it was just a compiler artifact, and not a ringing endorsement by our developers of unspeakable acts.

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