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Microsoft accuses Microsoft of copyright infringement, asks Google to scrub search links

Brad Chacos | July 30, 2013
It sounds like an amusing anecdote, but Microsoft's attempt to take down Microsoft.com websites signals a deeper problem with DMCA takedown requests.

For its part, Google does appear to actively police the DMCA takedown requests it receives. Around three percent of DMCA takedown requests the company receives are rejected, and rejected URLs are listed on the Transparency Report's main copyright page. And yes, the folks in the Googleplex caught LeakID's attempts to scrub the Microsoft.com links before the six Office solutions pages disappeared from search results.

But few companies have Google's resources. The Safe Harbor provision of the DMCA rewards websites that "take down first and ask questions later," and for every amusing story like this one, there are dozens of other, more harmful false takedown requests . Also consider that if even just 1 percent of the 100 million-plus requests for URL removals catches an innocent page in the automated crossfire, that's already 1 million websites affected.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a court brief in 2012 arguing that automated DMCA requests that aren't reviewed by actual humans should be considered negligent, therefore opening the requestor to sanctions. Nothing ever came from the attempt, however—and automated, unreviewed requests generated by Microsoft contractors are still trying to erase parts of the Microsoft.com website to this very day.

 

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