The three most active ‘copyright owners’ have asked Google to remove more than a billion allegedly infringing links from its search engine results. While more than 160,000 rightsholders have asked Google to remove content, 0.0001% are responsible for the majority of the flagged links.
Day in and day out copyright holders are flooding Google with DMCA takedown notices, pointing out links to pirated content.
While the volume has started to decrease over the past year or two, the numbers are still dazzling.
In 2018, copyright holders have reported around 700 million allegedly infringing links to the search engine. Most of these are processed swiftly, making the URLs unfindable in search results.
Since Google started counting in 2011, more than 160,000 copyright owners have used Google’s takedown tool. Together, they submitted more than 3.8 billion URLs. However, on closer inspection, it becomes clear that a small number of rightsholders are responsible for a lot of the action.
The UK music industry group BPI tops the list of most prolific ‘copyright owners’. It reported 425 million URLs over the years, which is more than 10% of all the reported pages.
The music groups APDIF Mexico and APDIF Brazil are listed in second and third place, with 252 million and 247 million reported links respectively. This means that the top three copyright owners are good for more than a billion reported links.
It’s clear that the high number of reported URLs is mostly driven by a small group of rightsholders.
To illustrate that, we found that the top 0.0001% of the most active copyright owners, which are 16 organizations, have reported more than 50% of all URLs.
It’s important to note that many of the reported links are not even in Google’s search results. Google processes non-indexed links and puts them on a blacklist, so they won’t be added in the future.
According to Google, the three reporting organizations (not copyright owners) that submitted the most URLs in 2017, all had non-index rates of more than 98%. As such, the billions of reported URLs don’t necessarily say something about the number of infringing links in Google’s index.
“While we will continue to act on these notices, they suggest that the volume of URLs we block is not a good proxy for the number of allegedly infringing links we serve,” Google previously noted.
It will be interesting to see how the takedown request volume evolves over time. Will the downward trend continue, or could the number of reported URLs start to grow again?