As you browse the one-off deals and 24-hour only special offers on Cyber Monday, spare a thought for poor old Google. Not only is the search engine having to serve up the latest and greatest deals for consumers eager to hand over their cash, it must also continue to provide results for its everyday piracy-focused users, who of course have no intention of handing over anything.
If you missed the news among all the holiday travel and turkey last week, here it is: Google is now receiving 2.2 million piracy takedown requests every day.
Yes, you read that right, no typos.
Millions of requests from copyright owners, each and every day, because the sites its search algorithm serves up to searchers are hosting content they have no right to offer.
The startling number marks a rapid escalation for Google, which is perhaps bearing the burden of its previous failures to curb piracy sites in its search listings. Just two years ago, Google was handling a significant yet steady number of takedown submissions, holding at around 750,000 URL removal requests every day.
Since the end of 2013 that number has surged, now almost triple what it was at that time and showing no signs of pulling back, at least without intervention. The search giant hit the 1 million requests a day mark some time around the start of 2014 and has clearly taken no action to attack the root of the problem: the piracy sites that plague its supposedly legitimate search listings.
Even against this backdrop, Google seems to believe that this surge represents some kind of success.
Last year it suggested, without a hint of irony, that the accelerating rate of takedown requests “demonstrates the continued relevance and effectiveness of the DMCA’s notice-and-takedown regime.” Rather than cut the problem off at its source, by delisting piracy sites immediately, Google seems content to play the same game of Whac-a-Mole that creators are forced into every day to defend their work online.
And, yet, when it comes to meaningful reform of its search results to limit the visibility of piracy sites – a task for which it is fully equipped – Google labors under the excuse of excessive administration and
It’s time that changed. It’s time Google takes its responsibilities to original content seriously and sees increased takedown requests as a symptom of the piracy illness, not a cure. Stop promoting piracy sites on the world’s biggest search engine and see how quickly the admin of managing those requests plummets.
As it stands, there’s more and more free, unlicensed content being offered up to customers who might otherwise pay for it. Unfortunately, this isn’t just a one-day affair like Cyber Monday, it’s a 24/7, 365 days a year abuse of what should be a legitimate service.