According to numbers in their latest transparency report, Google has received take down requests for more than 1 million different web sites because of copyright infringement complaints. Count individual URLs, and that number skyrockets to more than 2.1 billion. What’s interesting though, is that just under half – 913 million – of removed URLs came from February 2016 to February 2017.
While those numbers may sound high, consider that there are an estimated 30 trillion web pages indexed by Google (and those estimates are from several years ago). There’s bound to be plenty of illegal content in that bunch. If you’ve ever considered starting your own blog, making sure you don’t use any copyrighted photos or articles is one of your biggest concerns.
What these number tell us is that online pirates have more tools at their disposal than ever before, but that security measures are getting tighter as well. The number of take down request was so high in 2016 because people have access to new algorithms that automatically inform Google about copyright infringing content.
Surprising though is the fact that web sites like The White House and The U.S Department of Justice show up with repeated takedown requests, along with seemingly legitimate sources like The New York Times, NASA, Netflix, and the BBC. The vast majority of those can be attributed to software error. But many times, the software has caught governments trying to censor content. With politically related content coming under fire more often, Google’s transparency report allows citizens to find out what content is being hidden (or what content someone is requesting be hidden).
Sometimes, the copyright infringement requests are a little absurd. A record label submitted a request for Google to de-index home pages that simply had the word “coffee” in their title because they had an upcoming album that utilized that word. The “offending” URLs had absolutely nothing to do with the music, so Google didn’t comply.
While hiding a piracy site from Google doesn’t do anything to actually take the site down, it does make it more difficult to find. As piracy soars, expect measures like Google’s algorithms to continue to grow.