Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino’s battle with the gossip site Gawker, which posted not only his leaked script but also hyperlinks to where it could be seen and downloaded elsewhere in cyberspace, has generated online attention for the pursuit of another now-important legal remedy – how to get the Internet giant Google to pull the links to disputed works, such as those to his now-canceled film The Hateful Eight. And as several blogs, such as Ars Technica, have been quick to point out, stuffing the content genie back into a secure and private bottle isn’t as fast nor easy a task as it might seem. The case illustrates not only the challenges of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act’s take-down notice process but also persistent criticism of search-engine Google’s overwhelming role in playing online cop over rights claims.
The DMCA has two main sections: the “anti-circumvention” provision (section 1201 of the Copyright Act) and the “safe harbor” provision (section 512). Under the safe harbor provision of section 512(d), providers are immune from monetary liability for users’ possible copyright infringement, if they comply with the “notice and take-down” procedures. These procedures include expeditiously removing or disabling access to material that is claimed to be infringing. This gives providers immunity from lawsuits by following the DMCA’s take-down procedure. However, service providers also may choose not to follow this process.
Tarantino’s team, through MarkMonitor AntiPiracy, sent DMCA notices of Websearch Infringement to Google to remove links leading to The Hateful Eight. But out of the 32 URLs subject to the DMCA notices, Google has just removed seven. Google releases transparency reports to “help ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of content regulation online” and these indicate the links removed under the Tarantino request include kickass.to, torcache.net, limetorrents.com, thepiratebay.se, vk.com, releasebin.biz, vk.com, and zippyshare.com.
As has been noted previously on this blog, Google has been slammed by the volume of take-down demands it must field and respond to, particularly from BPI, the British recording industry group , with 4.1 million monthly removal requests, and with almost 5 million such requests, Degban, apparently a British-based professional anti-pirating firm that specializes in protecting the porn industry. It’s almost unfathomable how ordinary site owners and operators can keep up with take-down notices when a gargantuan enterprise like Google says it struggles — and for real reasons. More than 24 million of them. That’s the breathtaking number of take-down notices Google says it gets in a month. And how’d the world wander into this thicket? Here’s at least one view.
Unclear about the DMCA and how take-down notices work? Check out this entertaining video on Youtube Copyright and DMCA basics: