Microsoft recently sent out a string of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) infringement notices that requested URLs from the Huffington Post, Washington Post, Wikipedia, and the U.S. Government to be removed from Google’s search engine results.
The infringement notices were aimed at preventing unauthorized distribution of Microsoft’s Windows 8 Beta. The list of 65 websites, documented by ChillingEffects, contains several erroneous examples of URLs (from the BBC, Buzzfeed, CNN, HuffPo, TechCrunch, RealClearPolitics, Rotten Tomatoes, ScienceDirect, and others) that are clearly not violating Microsoft’s copyrights. And as TorrentFreak points out, half the URLs listed have nothing to do with Windows 8.
Part of the reason for these mistaken infringement claims is the automated system Microsoft uses to monitor the web for infringement and send notices to sites like Google as well as the party allegedly responsible for violating the copyright. Clearly, Microsoft has a flawed process.
When Google deems a URL in violation of a copyright, it removes it from search results and replaces it with a message explaining why it’s been taken down as well as documentation of the takedown notice. Those URLs get removed from results until the original website owner disputes them. Some call this a passive form of censorship, even though it’s somewhat easy to restore wrongly removed results.
Microsoft has a history of sending out a large number copyright infringement notices. In fact, the most recent Google Transparency Report shows Microsoft as the top submitter of takedown requests. Microsoft might want to revise its process. Otherwise, it could help make a case for new laws that punish companies that wrongly send out takedown notices.