SAN FRANCISCO, United States of America – Google on Thursday, May 24, began revealing details about requests for links to be removed from Internet search results on the grounds they lead to copyrighted material posted without permission.
Google added a copyright section to the online transparency report it launched two years ago to provide information about how often government officials ask for material to be removed from its online venues.
“The goal of the transparency report is to help users understand what we remove from search and why,” Google senior copyright counsel Fred von Lohmann told AFP.
“We remove more search results for copyright reasons than for any other reason.”
Nearly 1.25 million take-down requests were received by Google search in the past month on behalf of 1,296 copyright owners, according to the debut report, which focused on that month.
The requests targeted more than 24,000 websites. Almost half of the copyrighted material at issue belonged to software colossus Microsoft.
“We do receive a large number of take-down requests from the adult entertainment industry and the software industry,” von Lohmann said.
“This is not just an issue that involves music and Hollywood movies,” he added. “The data shows a more complicated landscape.”
Websites targeted by requests ranged from online data file “lockers” to personal blogs.
“It is quite eye-opening to look and see the diversity of sites laid out there,” von Lohmann said. “We are showing all the way down to the very bottom.”
The number of requests has been increasing rapidly and it is not unusual for Google to receive more than 250,000 take-down demands weekly.
Google granted 97 percent of such take-down requests received in the second half of last year, according to a facts page in the report.
Google said that it watches for erroneous or abusive removal requests.
Von Lohmann gave the example of two requests on behalf of an entertainment company asking to pull links to a major newspaper’s review of a television show on what turned out to be a baseless claim of infringed copyright.
Competitors have also used false copyright violation accusations to scuttle rivals online, according to Google.
Google will update the copyright section of the transparency report daily.
“As policymakers and Internet users around the world consider the pros and cons of different proposals to address the problem of online copyright infringement, we hope this data will contribute to the discussion,” von Lohmann said.
Google has long shared take-down request information with nonprofit group Chilling Effects.
Information available online at google.com/transparencyreport also shows the status of Google websites, highlighting when service has been disrupted.
“We believe that openness is crucial for the future of the Internet,” von Lohmann said.
“When something gets in the way of the free flow of information, we believe there should be transparency around what that block might be.” – Agence France-Presse