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Rights holders got Google to remove 6 billion links from Search over 10 years

Rights holders got Google to remove 6 billion links from Search over 10 years

Enlarge (credit: Matthew Horwood / Contributor | Getty Images News)

Over the past decade, Google has consistently documented its efforts to remove links from its search results to content that the tech giant considers pirated, and recently, the total number of Google takedowns since its reporting began has shot past 6 billion. It’s a milestone that Torrent Freak suggested shows that, “[w]hile copyright infringement can’t be eradicated entirely, Google is slowly but steadily presenting itself as a willing partner in the anti-piracy fight.”

Google’s slow evolution into an anti-piracy champion began ramping up in 1998. That’s when the Federal Communications Commission granted safe harbor to online service providers like Google, protecting them from copyright infringement claims about third-party content, with a condition that the providers disclose information on any users alleged to be infringers. A decade later in 2009, it seemed like Google wasn’t doing enough, though, and the FCC again intervened, responding to news publishers lashing out at Google and others. At that time, the publishers accused service providers of profiting off ad placements next to links from aggregators and scrapers, who were accused of grabbing and republishing news content without permission.

Back then, Google promised to address the issue by making it easier for rights holders to flag infringing content in search results. Then it launched its first transparency report in 2010, but that initial report only shared information on government requests for takedowns. Two years later, Google expanded its report, publicly counting every takedown notice that it received and “providing information about who sends us copyright removal notices, how often, on behalf of which copyright owners and for which websites.”

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