Google: Microsoft, Not The Film Or Music Industry, Leads Copyright Takedown Requests

By May 27, 2012

Image: Microsoft

Google released a cache of data Friday on requests, by copyright owners, for infringing data to be removed from the company’s search results. Surprisingly, the most requests by a staggering margin were by software giant Microsoft, rather than the film or music industry.

In the past year, Microsoft has issued Google more than 2.5 million requests for allegedly infringing URLs to be removed. In second place, for comparison, is NBC Universal, with just 985,995 removal requests. In the past week alone, according to the Google data, Microsoft has made 108,590 separate requests for content to be removed from Google’s search results.

That’s a strange reversal from the political sphere, where it is Hollywood and the record labels, not software developers, that have lobbied hardest for a legislative crackdown on internet piracy – a battle they’ve stepped up in the past year, which met with opposition from many companies in the internet and startup sectors, including Google.

Microsoft’s concern is perhaps understandable. The company’s software is among the most pirated in the world. However, Microsoft opposed two recent bills, SOPA and PIPA, that were heavily supported by the film and music industries.

Google may not be entirely comfortable in its role as a censor-on-demand. Some of the language in materials associated with the data gets a bit testy, such as one page that lists inappropriate removal requests – including two separate incidents Google called “clearly invalid,” in which U.S.-based motion picture studios tried to have an IMDb page and a newspaper’s film review removed on copyright grounds.

“From time to time, we may receive inaccurate or unjustified copyright removal requests for search results that clearly do not link to infringing content,” reads the page.

In spite of those seeming misgivings, Google says it honors 97 percent of requests by copyright owners. Many requests are made by “reporting organizations,” which act on the behalf of copyright owners to ask that content be removed.

Google also released data on government requests for user data, which showed the United States leading by a surprising margin. In the most recent period available, for example, the United States requested data on 5,950 users, compared to runner-up India’s 1,739. Among countries listed, Google also complied with the highest proportion of user data requests by United States government agencies and courts, at 93 percent.

Images: Microsoft