Microsoft Sends DMCA Requests to the BBC, Wikipedia, and More
The world of internet piracy and online copyright enforcement is rife with stories of incompetence, especially on the side of major corporations and copyright holders. Many of those problems stem from the fact that the most frequently used weapon of copyright-holders, sending DMCA takedown requests to remove sites illegally sharing copyrighted material from search engines, is automated. The systems in place send an obscene number of notices, including duplicate requests for sites that have already been removed and now, apparently, random requests to remove any site even slightly connected to a company’s copyrighted material. For example, a recent rash of DMCA notices from Microsoft asked Google to delist a series of popular, most-likely non-infringing sites, including TechCrunch, The Huffington Post, BBC.com, and Wikipedia.
Looking at the request, it seems that Microsoft’s DMCA-bots flagged a series with references to the Windows 8 beta. which most of the sites in question would have been covering with not Microsoft’s permission, but with their cooperation. Upon further inspection, nearly half of the 65 flagged URLs don’t make any mention of Windows 8: All of the flagged sites do, on the other hand, feature the number 45 somewhere in their URL, according to TorrentFreak.
Similarly, another set of notices sent by Microsoft requested specific sites from Spotify to be taken down. Again, if a real person had been involved somewhere in the process, they would’ve been able to see that the site licenses all of its material, and shouldn’t be on the list.
Automating the process saves time and money, but clearly it isn’t working out. Can’t companies just hire a couple of guys to skim these requests before they go out to weed out the most ridiculous requests? They don’t need to be lawyers; just people with common sense.