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Digital Millennium Copyright Act + Removal of a Site + Google

....we have removed 1 result(s) from this page.

     

Imaster

2:30 pm on Aug 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I was searching for mad cow disease [google.com] & at the bottom of the page I read this:

In response to a complaint we received under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint for these removed results

This is the first time I saw something like this. It's really good to know that Google takes copyright infringement very seriously.

All hail the mighty Google!

takagi

10:12 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Thanks for the link. I've never seen it before, but it has been mentioned in the threads Removal Notice - due to a copyright complaint [webmasterworld.com] and Competitor copying my content / Report to Google? [webmasterworld.com].

By adding '&start=59&num=1" to the URL of the SERP, you can even find out the page used to rank on position 60.

Google even provides a link to a letter with the complaint, and that letter contains the original URL.

See also Google's info about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [google.com]

claus

11:41 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



So now it's no longer a "neutral" or "global" search engine. DMCA apparently imlies that it should not do it's job for matters that are controversial in terms of US law. It even says that people outside US should submit to the laws of Santa Clara County, California when complained upon ("consent to the jurisdiction of ...").

Sad. I know it's the US political/legal system that's to blame and not Google itself, and i also know that this is probably (intended to be) to the benefit of rights holders, but i find it sad anyway.

Don't get me wrong, i acknowledge the laws of my country and i'm no fan of theft in general or copyright infringement in particular, but i am not a citizen of the US and i do not want to be subject to the laws of this country unless i specifically choose to locate myself there.

I found the exact same sentence using the search on the ".co.uk", ".com.gr", ".com.tw", ".jp", ".ch" and ".dk" domains, and i wonder if Google has given the matter any thought before applying these country-specific rules to all their global outlets.

/claus

willybfriendly

4:05 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Ah, the poor webmaster was simply maintaining a "cached" copy of the Far Side strip ;)

Seriously though, what is the difference between Google's cache and this individual's infraction? The cache is an unauthorized reproduction of an original work being used for commercial gain.

WBF

g1smd

4:21 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I believe that Google only caches the HTML code, not any images; so when you look at the cache, the images are coming from the original site server.

After finding the "problem" site and looking at it, I really think that their usage of DMCA is total overkill in this situation.

[edited by: g1smd at 4:26 pm (utc) on Aug. 24, 2003]

takagi

4:25 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Seriously though, what is the difference between Google's cache and this individual's infraction?

Google's cache is opt-out with a meta-tag (you could argue if it should be opt-in but that is OT). OTOH, this 'poor webmaster' refused to remove the content:

We have contacted the site contact several times and requested that they remove the offending images. The contact information is as follows:

XXXXX

They have failed to do so.

source: Reproduction of The Far Side cartoons [chillingeffects.org]

martinibuster

5:01 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Well, Google is located in the US and are responsible for adhering to US laws, inadvertently causing sites outside the world to comply to US laws.

But the same goes on in reverse. Yahoo had to comply with French laws in regard to certain WWII memorabilia.

Google has found itself in hot water with China.

And on the micro level, I believe Pennsylvania is filtering the web at the ISP level because of a court decision regarding porn...

I'm certain you can repeat these same micro-scenarios all over the world. It is not just a US law thing.

For instance, if you build a website dedicated exclusively to "The Beaujolais Nouveau Vin de Merde" and how great it is for mopping barnyard floors, you'll probably feel some heat from the French in the form of a lawsuit.

deft_spyder

5:06 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Claus: Please supply me with your URL so that I may keep a cached copy of your site on my server.

It's not so fun/sad if it's your work being stolen.

As for Google, if they would like to follow the rules of the country/city where they are from, why can't they do that? You may not have chosen to 'locate yourself' in the US, but your site listing is located on a company site based in the US.

You can choose to un-locate yourself there within your header and no longer be subjucated by those nasty Americans and their laws. Other search engines are more like the 'wild west' (sorry, American reference) which you may enjoy a bit more. I suggest a search for Britney Spears for maximum 'wild west'-ness.

willybfriendly

5:09 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Google's cache is opt-out with a meta-tag (you could argue if it should be opt-in but that is OT). OTOH, this 'poor webmaster' refused to remove the content

One might argue that a copyright notice on a page gives protection against unauthorized reproduction. If permission has not been requested and granted then there is a violation. Google does not request, they simply take what they want.

Anyone can write a letter stating that they had made contact with another person. Doesn't make it true. That is why certified mail exists - provides a paper trail.

I don't doubt that they made contact in this case. I would guess that Far Works, Inc. and Mr. Larson have pretty deep pockets.

The site in question appears to be more of a "Fan Site" than anything else.

Gary Larson, very popular in North America, but less well known in other countries, is still my favorite cartoonist.

No commercial use of the material that I can make out, and a rather small collection of Far Side cartoons to boot. I see this as more of an abuse of power and influence, both by Far Works, Inc. and Google. This borders on penalizing a High School kid for using a Dilbert cartoon in a term paper.

WBF

claus

5:51 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



>> feel some heat from the French in the form of a lawsuit

Probably so, but then they would have to sue me according to the laws of the country i am in, and not the French laws. At least i presume so. And, no matter which laws were the right ones, a SE should still display the page, as that's basically what SE's are there for - to find pages, legal or not.

Analogy.. well, perhaps to remove (suspected) criminals from the yellow pages. (i don't know if a judge has to issue a verdict before the page gets removed or if it is done on suspected offence in absence of trial.)

deft_spyder
>> cached copy

My site is cached a lot of places already, including the very same Google. That was not the point, and it was not about copyright infringement either - i probably oppose this as much as you. Finally, it was not against the US. Please, do read my post properly.

What i am saying is something else: That i can no longer consider Google to be an unbiased global SE. An unbiased global SE would display those pages, as they are clearly out there, no matter if those pages are legal or not according to this law or that. The page does not dissappear from the web because Google chooses not to display it, that is.

This is totally backwards: It is the owner of this page that violates the copyright, not Google, and it is the owner that should remove his/her page (from the web), not Google (from the SERPS). Even more so after another post mentioned that the offence was actually a graphic. Googles SERPS are text!

This is tantamount to libraries removing certain books, and in addition to this requiring foreign authors to comply with domestic laws. Now, there's a word for that and that is the sad part.

>> if they would like to follow the rules of the country/city where they are from, why can't they do that?

Of course they can do that, it's exactly what they are doing, and that's exactly the point. They are no longer perceived to be global by me. It's just a very big regional SE now. No offence in that, it's just something completely different, but at least they are (still) vastly less censored than China.

>> You can choose to un-locate yourself there within your header

I don't get it. Humans does not come with header information afaik.

/claus

IITian

6:58 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I believe that Google is simply wrong. It is not in the business of copyright law enforcement. It should present us with whatever it can find on the web.

I am creating a protest website against a large multinational and have copied many articles regarding their wrong-doing from many sources. It is a non-profit, fair use reproduction with proper accreditions. My TOS asks the primary sources to resolve the matter with me if they have a problem with this.

If they try to put pressure through getting me banned from Google serps, that will be violating my rights. Only when a court determines that there is a copyright violation, Google might be justified in removing any site.

rfgdxm1

7:30 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



>I see this as more of an abuse of power and influence, both by Far Works, Inc. and Google. This borders on penalizing a High School kid for using a Dilbert cartoon in a term paper.

I have to agree. I can see if someone put a bunch of Far Side comics. However, all this over just one? Sheesh.

sun818

8:10 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Last year there was a story on Scientology using DMCA to have Google listings removed:

SearchDay - Google Makes Scientology Infringement Demand Public - 15 April 2002 [searchenginewatch.com]

Webwork

8:50 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Copyright and trademark issues a very interesting and likely to be around for awhile.

I just searched "Disney", "Dilbert", "The Far Side", "The Simpsons" and "Newsweek".

The only Adwords triggered by searching these terms came up for Newsweek. Clearly the mandate about using trademarks in Adword ads has gained traction.

I think it would be fair to say that if Google was making money on ads delivered by Google, triggered by someone using a company's trademark, the trademark holder has a fair claim to a share of the profits.

It is, after all, the use of the trademark that causes the advertisement to appear, as a result of which Google reaps a profit.

I can see interesting licensing deals if Google is smart about this. The minimum bids will likely be set by agreement between Google and the trademark holder, with a share of the Adwords revenue going to the holder.

Copyright is a can of worms. I can see the day when a website publisher has to include a tag that will authorize the indexing of the website (so their copyright is not violated) and a tag that also amounts to a representation that the website has the rights to publish the information in the first place.

The Web presents the greatest threat to copyright. That is why they called it the "Digital MilCopyrAct". Digital transmission make infringement so much easier and devastating.

GoogleGuy

8:58 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member googleguy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



There's nothing new here; we've responded to DMCA requests like this for over a year now. People on both side of copyright debates have strong arguments (copyright protection vs. fair use), and I think our DMCA policy is more clear than any other search engine I know of.

If you see that notice, it means that someone has claimed copyright infringement in a complaint to us. What we do is send the complaint to a third party (chillingeffects.org). After Chilling Effects has a record of the complaint, we remove the url from our index. If a search would have brought up the url, we instead show this message at the bottom of the page:

In response to a complaint we received under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed X result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint for these removed results

The message includes a link so that the user can click and read more about the complaint. We also try to contact the webmaster who posted the alleged copyright infringement and ask if they wish to counter-notify. Counter-notification means that the webmaster disputes whether the material in question is infringing on copyright. If the webmaster counter-notifies, we return the url to our index. At that point, Google is out of the dispute--it's between the person alleging copyright and the person accused of copyright infringement, but Google isn't involved.

For people who think that copyright issues are easy, I disagree. Both sides have valid points. Imagine how you would feel if someone ripped off your entire website, for example. Now imagine how you would feel if someone accused you of copying their website when you wrote your site yourself. It's easy to imagine lots of different scenarios that are tricky to handle well.

For people who want more background, we document our DMCA policy at
[google.com...]
This has also been discussed multiple times on WebmasterWorld before, e.g.
[webmasterworld.com...]

What's always interesting to me is that people never seem to ask other search engines about their DMCA policy. ;)

Imaster

9:05 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



What's always interesting to me is that people never seem to ask other search engines about their DMCA policy.

That's cause nobody takes any other search engine as seriously as they take Google ;)

IITian

9:32 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



In my view, a better solution will be to show the url in the serps as usual with an extra * and 'see bottom of page' attached to title and explain the copyright issue at the bottom of the page. It seems more fair to both parties. If the "offending" sites defends then as GoogleGuy posted it is a matter between two parties and that attachment should be removed.

(Also make similar text attachment to the url claiming the copyright violation.)

Brett_Tabke

9:57 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



What's always interesting to me is that people never seem to ask other search engines about their DMCA policy.

Because other search engines do not copy and redisplay websites without prior permission.

Also, this is the first such report that Google had been displaying the notice in serps that I can remember since once late last year. (I can't find the thread).

takagi

10:51 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Also, this is the first such report that Google had been displaying the notice in serps that I can remember since once late last year. (I can't find the thread).

In message 2 I already gave 2 links to threads containing the exact text Google displayed in the SERPs.

[webmasterworld.com...] msg18 on Nov 30, 2002

[webmasterworld.com...] msg1 on Dec 23, 2002

Powdork

1:33 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member powdork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Because other search engines do not copy and redisplay websites without prior permission.

What about Y! Sure it's Google's index but Y! is displaying the cache. And yes they are pretty much a search engine now.
MSN has its preview screenshot.

GoogleGuy

1:59 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member googleguy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I honestly don't think the cache is the issue, Brett. I know that other search engines get DMCA requests too.

bodine

2:01 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



GoogleGuy,

Does Google's DMCA policy also apply to AdWords advertisers? I see Web Search and Google Groups mentioned, but not AdWords.

plumsauce

2:52 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member




Furthermore, I wonder if the counter notification mentioned by GG can be used in a adwords situation?

Kind of hard to sell a FORD without mentioning FORD.And I don't mean the dealer, which is still fair use, but a private seller selling his used FORD. Can you imagine the hoo-hah if FORD served notice on all daily newspapers, autotrader, & ebay that FORD could not be mentioned in any of their venues without prior consent from FORD and only in ads paid for by FORD?

Well, ADWORDS deleting ads mentioning WIDGETS(TM) from affiliates, dealers and the like amounts to exactly the same thing. This is a denial of fair use that far exceeds what the courts have held.

When is it beyond fair use for someone to say that they happen to have a stock of WIDGETS(TM) at a price?

Once again, the lawyers from la-la land(zip code: dot.com) make their own law according to their own vision. Seems they either never heard of the Sherman Act, or believe it does not apply in their exalted circumstances. Of course, some day after the ipo, the FTC might beg to differ. Let's say Walmart wants to advertise WIDGETS(TM) and they make the call. Impossible? Well Walmart took on Visa as a class action suit. And won. Does Walmart have deeper pockets than Google? I think so. Is Walmart tough? Undoubtedly.

+++

claus

2:17 pm on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



GoogleGuy:
>> what we do is

Thanks for the info, i'm glad to hear the verdict is not necessarily final. So this is the procedure? :

  1. Complaint is received by Google
  2. Copy of complaint is sent to chillingeffects.org
  3. URL is removed from SERPS(*), notice attached
  4. Google attempts to contact webmaster of removed URL
  5. Webmaster counter-notifies Google
  6. URL is re-included in SERPS(*)

Until stage 5 is reached you have absolutely no way of knowing if this claim is even questionable - it might be questioned and it might not. No legal court ever makes a decision, and even if a legal decision is made (no matter which side it favours) this decision could very well be made after stage 6, the re-inclusion. In the absence of counter-notification, otoh, you assume that the claim is valid, as nobody questions it.

I personally believe this is true right from step one: "Google is out of the dispute--it's between the person alleging copyright and the person accused of copyright infringement". I also believe that this is a fundamental principle: "only innocence can be assumed, guilt has to be proven".

Now, consider this statement you made, to which i agree totally: "Now imagine how you would feel if someone accused you of copying their website when you wrote your site yourself."

/claus


Note:
(*) not from index, as if it was index, then you wouldn't know when to display the notice in stead.

europeforvisitors

3:06 pm on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)



I also believe that this is a fundamental principle: "only innocence can be assumed, guilt has to be proven".

You're confusing criminal law with civil law. (Not all countries recognize a presumption of innocence in criminal law either, by the way.)

As for the DMCA (which Google is bound by law to honor), that's an issue to take up with the U.S. Congress, not with Google.

jordanm

3:45 pm on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



There is a new article concerning this "Group wants search engines freed from policing copyrights"

[famulus.msnbc.com...]

"Advocates for freedom of expression on the Internet issued a call this week to change a federal law that requires search engines to remove search results suspected of infringing on someone's copyright."

It seems to me that this is actually a really serious issue. What is going to stop a competitor who wants better rankings from claiming his competitor stole material and getting the competition removed? Or a competitor sees a newbie coming on strong in the rankings... strategie.. call google and claim copyright infringement... Search engines should not be put in the place of individuals or companies doing their own job and policiing and enforcing their own copyright infringements through the system.

I'd be interested in others thoughts...

mcjim

4:29 pm on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Here's a little twist on the copyright subject.

From time to time I check for stolen material by doing a search for a random phrase from my site (ie. "world's greatest widget sale".

I consistently rank #1 in the results followed by about a dozen others who's descriptions are identical to mine. Upon going to the other sites, I can find no trace of the search phrase "world's greatest widget sale" either on the site, the view source, or the cached page.

Clearly my material is being copied but the offending party's position is: we will remove any copyright material (if you can find it).
It would be difficult to persue any legal action against these other sites since I can't clearly show my material in their code. It would appear that Google, in this case, is the offender but I'm sure their position would be: hey we just spider the sites and show whatever comes up.

Any thoughts?

jeremy goodrich

4:58 pm on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jeremy_goodrich is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



>>>people never seem to ask other search engines about their DMCA policy.

You mean, there are other search engines? ;)

Seriously, I think Google does a great job of notifying the end user when a site gets removed - there was one fellow I know of who had his site removed because of a DMCA complaint to Google, and if Google would *not* have included the "removal notice" how would we know that the site wasn't simply banned, penalized, or dropped by a Google burp? :)

The notice tells us that Google intends to index & rank a site where it was, but it's been removed which is a good thing for everybody.

Cached pages, other countries take on differing laws, etc (I'm in the US) is much to broad a subject to discuss thoroughly here, more than we have before, imho.

Azrael

7:26 pm on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



It seems to me that along with a lot of good information, including from Googleguy, some misconceptions have smuggled their way in here.

The original DMCA complaint to Google was about Operation Clambake at xenu.net and was filed by the Church of Scientology, which has a long history of claiming copyright infringement for obviously fair-use quotes/usages and has been very unhappy that Google searches for [Scientology] showed a high percentage of first page results for sites *critical* of Scientology.

Going after the *links* to such sites is not a first for the 'Church', which has tried the same in european cases against xs4all in Holland.

Had the complaint been against Google itself, as the host for its cache, it would have been one thing. Since it was only against the *link*, that's a whole other kettle of squid, and it surprised many that Google failed to directly reject the attack on what is after all, its bread and butter business.

Claims that Google was 'required by law' to remove the links pending a DMCA reply are not exactly true. They could have rejected the complaint out of hand and somewhat improbably faced a lawsuit by the 'Church', which to my mind, and considering the essential freedom to link as the entirety of the basis for search engines at all, would have been the wiser and more courageous course.

By removing the links Google took advantage of the 'Safe Harbor' provisions of the DMCA, which prevent any lawsuit against the *host* of putatively offending material.

As things worked out, Google's less-than-manhaft response was somewhat offset when they examined the index page of xenu.net, and, finding no questionable material, restored it to the index, and instituted the policy of notifying chillingeffects.org, and adding an explaination link that includes the original url. How this link is any less vulnerable to barratry is a bit beyond me :)

The way things worked out, the Church of Scientology achieved pretty much the opposite of what it wanted, and nowdays searches for [scientology] show critical sites higher than before.

The danger to Google now is due to one of the basic flaws of the DMCA. Complaints are cheap and recourse against blatantly false ones is weak.

By accepting the theory that mere linking is a justifiable grounds for complaint, Google has set itself up to receive at least thousands such fraudulent complaints, about any site, and on any whim.

The DMCA *does* include penalties for making fraudulent complaints, but they are minimal, and include only actual damages, which of course, are non-existent for non-commercial sites. At the very least, the DMCA needs very high automatic punitive penalties against fraudulent complaints, especially in the huge majority of cases where a complaint is filed, a reply is counter-filed and the site is restored, without any actual lawsuit being filed.

A related issue, dealing with caches, happened somewhat later with the Wayback Machine, at archive.org which maintains caches of a huge number of sites. Again, the complaint was filed by the very same Church of Scientology.

In my opinion, at the first complaint, all of the search engines should have cooperatively joined forces to protect their right to link, without which they can't exist.

Az

esteve999

8:47 pm on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I don’t think Google should just remove the alleged offending page from their index. GoogleGuy is correct when he says “both sides have valid points”, or at least may have valid points. He’s also correct when he says this is “between the person alleging copyright and the person accused of copyright infringement”.

So, why should Google get in the middle? All Google is doing is providing a link to the page. They did not create the page. Google is not in a position to determine who is right here. And by putting themselves in the middle they could be setting themselves up for trouble trying to respond to an ever increasing number of DMCA requests.

If the two parties cannot settle this amongst themselves, then it is up to the legal system. That opens up another can of worms because, as has already been discussed in this thread, which country’s legal system should be used here. Hopefully the jurisdictional issues will get sorted out sometime soon.

With respect to the Google cache, I could see Google opting to remove the cached page in response to the DMCA request and following their DMCA policy of notifying the webmaster and asking if they want to counter-notify.

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