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Movie studios don’t want you to know about their Google takedowns

Movie studios are trying to take down Google's list of copyright notices—by hitting it with a copyright notice.


Kevin Collier

Internet Culture

Posted on Apr 5, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 7:14 pm CDT


Studios like Fox, NBC, and Lionsgate often ask Google to remove links to sites that allegedly host their copyrighted content. Now they also want to remove links to the sites that list those takedown requests and make them public.

It’s possible because of the oft-problematic Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), the1998 law that still governs how we treat copyright online today. Under the DMCA, content companies (like movie studios) that find their content being hosted illegally can report it to Google. Google, not wanting to be sued, will add those URLs in bulk to a list of sites it won’t link to. These notices are sometimes incorrect and possibly even malicious, and Google deals with hundreds of thousands of them every week.

In the interest of transparency, Google keeps a record of which sites have made its blacklist. The list is run through a partnership with—which you may recognize as the site you can visit to get more information about search results removed from Google.

But as TorrentFreak has seen, some studios are now filing takedown notices against sites that list Google’s list of copyrighted content—claiming they own the copyright to that material.

For example, on January 25, Fox sent Google a request to blacklist 2,953 URLs it claimed linked to Fox’s copyrighted content. Many of them point to piracy hotbeds, like But one link was to Chilling Effects—specifically, a reproduction of Fox’s own January 7 notice to take down 990 allegedly infringing pages.

According to Google Transparency Report’s page on Chilling Effects, that site—which exists solely to track DMCA takedowns, mind you—has been targeted by content companies 400 times since April 2011.

Oh, and the biggest goof when it comes to trying to take down the messenger? That would be MarkMonitor, which has falsely flagged 119 times.

MarkMonitor is the company that runs the software behind the Copyright Alert System (CAS), the anti-piracy program that affects anyone who uses one of the five biggest Internet providers in the U.S.

Depending on which Internet service provider you use, being flagged for piracy by the CAS and its MarkMonitor software could result in drastically slower Internet speeds or a locked browser. If you’re falsely flagged, you can lodge an appeal, but it will cost you $35.

The software’s track record doesn’t do much to inspire confidence in a system that’s been accused of having a huge “trust deficit” by its own advisory board.

Photo by zoke/Flickr

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*First Published: Apr 5, 2013, 6:45 pm CDT