Censorship flood: takedown notices to Google increased by 711,887% in four years

The State of the Discordant Union: An Empirical Analysis of DMCA Takedown Notices , a paper publishing in Virginia Journal of Law and Technology by Stanford/NUS's Daniel Seng, documents the vast, terrifying increase in the use of DMCA takedown notices, which are self-signed legal notices that allow anyone to demand that material be censored from the Internet, with virtually no penalty for abuse or out-and-out fraud. The increase is driven by a small number of rightsholders who have automated the process of sending out censorship demands, industrializing the practice. The three biggest players are RIAA, Froytal and Microsoft, who sent more than 5 million notices each in 2012, and at least doubled their takedowns again in 2013. In the four years between 2008 and 2012, the use of takedown notices against Google grew by an eye-popping 711,887 percent.

Where copyright holders previously listed only one work per notice, there are now sometimes dozens of movies or tracks bundled in each. This is a worrying development according to Seng.

“It is disturbing to see the trend where more claims and more takedown requests are packed into each takedown notice. Up until 2010, each notice contained only one claim. But in 2011, the average number of claims per notice is 2.18, and in 2012, this average is 5.05,” Seng writes.

More copyrighted works per notice also means that the number of URLs per notice is increasing too. For example, between 2011 and 2012 the average number of URLs listed in each notice increased from 47.79 to 124.75.

According to Seng, these changes can be attributed to a small number of copyright holders. In fact, most copyright holders still submit only one notice.

“These increasing averages paint a slightly misleading picture. More than 65% of all reporters have only issued one notice, and almost 95% of all reporters have issued no more than 10 notices in 2012,” Seng writes.

Google Takedown Notices Surge 711,887 Percent in Four Years [Ernesto/Torrentfreak]

Notable Replies

  1. By way of perspective, there are ~ 1.2 million lawyers (of all types, passed bar in at least one state, in the United States.)

    If it hasn't already gotten to this point already (notably, the paper shows an increase in 'bundling' of multiple, sometimes unrelated, takedown demnds into a single 'notice', which helps mask the speed of the increase, alarming as it is even so), it soon will be the case that providing anything we would historically recognize as even a low-rent version of 'due process' will not only be uneconomic (as it already is, unless you have substantial means or are an EFF test case or something); but as absurdly impractical as having somebody hand-read email to be sure it isn't spam.

    It's all still based on theoretically familiar legal principles; but the logistics are such that that is not only false, it's so false as to practically be a category error. "Process", by sheer bulk, if not by any mendacity, is a bot duel, and one with a substantial inbuilt bias.

  2. They are trying to take our porn! Stop them!

  3. I wonder how much longer it will take before every single video on YouTube is gone, and new ones are squelched within an hour?

  4. Let's keep in mind that these are simply take-down notices and not legal actions. Indeed these take-down notices actually prevent litigation (which is where traditional due process really arise) by giving content hosts a safe harbor from litigation. And the affected posters can file counter-notices as well. There's not a huge risk of being outgunned at the take-down stage; ignorance of the counter-notice process is a much greater risk (as the paper acknowledges).

  5. Better 3 Strike Law:

    My idea is to change the law so 3 bogus takedown notices from any group and that group can no longer issue takedown notices. 3 strikes is fair right? (ironically most these groups have lobbied the hell out of many countries political systems to implement 3 strike laws against infringers.)

    Then google/youtube, and all sites that host content under the unsafe harbor, should honeypot the hell out of their services. Post tons of public domain videos and works under accounts controlled by them, and if they receive 3 bogus take down notices from any one party then they can simply ignore all future requests from those copyright trolls. Problem solved in the style of the people who have created the problem. smile

Continue the discussion bbs.boingboing.net

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