Is Google Censoring Links?


Not too long ago, there was talk that the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the Recording Industry Association of America might sue Google, claiming that the web behemoth has used its search engine service to shape the online music market in a way trade groups do not like.

These recording industry giants reportedly pressured Google to “degrade” links to alleged “pirate” websites in search results, and that Google had profited from illegal internet file sharing by failing to do so.

New reports, however, suggest that Google is actively removing millions of links and cooperating proactively with copyright holders.

Check it out: just -released data from Google shows that the company said OK to 97 percent of these takedown requests from July 2011 to December 2011. The concern gets 250,000 requests each week — more than the total received in all of 2009.

Google has long been publishing these transparency reports about takedown requests, but it looks like this is the first one to give a sense of which non-government entities are making these requests.

So which companies are behind the bulk of requests?

In the last month, the top copyright owners involved in requests were: Microsoft Corporation (536,716), NBC UNIVERSAL(165,662), BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) Ltd (151,087), Elegant Angel(41,803), RIAA member companies (EMI Music North America, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and their associated record labels) (31,922). A complete list is available here.

Google informs the owners of before removing a link from search results, and plans on sharing “all copies of removal requests to Chilling Effects — a non profit organization working to protect lawful online activity from legal threats,” notes Device Magazine. Users can also file a “counter notice” if they think the takedown request is bogus.

Wondering how these takedowns came about in the first place? Copyright holders can ask websites to prevent access to infringing content under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, TorrentFreak explains.