Big Surge in Pirated Links Brings DMCA Efficacy into Question

Copyright infringement on the Internet is surging. Over the last year, copyright holders asked Google to remove more than one billion links from its search engine results. That makes a total of two billion that Google has received over the years. But whereas the first billion accumulated over several years, the second billion took a mere 12 months. Of the 1,007,741,143 infringing links, Google removed more than 90 percent, which comes to 908,237,861. The remaining links were either not valid, not infringements or duplicates.

TorrentFreak was responsible for coming up with those numbers, after a close examination of Google’s Transparency Report. Dubbing the one billion figure “a new record,” TorrentFreak adds that “copyright holders continue to flood Google with DMCA takedown requests, targeting ‘pirate links’ in the company’s search results,” and adds that, “at the current rate, another billion will be added by the end of next summer.”


Over 50 million takedown requests involved the website, but that site’s operators say that the number is inflated due to duplicates.

Both U.K. and U.S. government entities are responding to the uptick in takedown notices. In the U.K., lawmakers are proposing amendments to the Digital Economy Bill that would fine search engines “that fail to properly target piracy.”

The U.S. Copyright Office is currently evaluating “the impact and effectiveness of the current DMCA provisions,” and various copyright groups are weighing in with “heavy criticism of the DMCA process.” These groups believe the surge in infringing sites is “a signal of an unbeatable game of whack-a-mole” and are asking for DMCA revisions that would ensure that once content is taken down it doesn’t reappear elsewhere.

Google counters that the system already in place “is working just fine,” informing the Copyright Office that, “the notice-and-takedown process has been an effective and efficient way to address online infringement. The increasing volume of URLs removed from Search each year demonstrates that rights holders are finding the notice-and-takedown process worthwhile, efficient, and scalable to their needs.”

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