Google’s claim that it’s doing a great job streamlining its response to DMCA takedown notices on its Blogger-hosted websites doesn’t jibe with the truth. This year the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) has been holding a series of hearings with the goal of “improving the operation of the DMCA notice and takedown policy.”
The first public meeting was held this past March in Alexandria, Virginia and second took place May 8th in Berkeley, California. I was able to attend the Berkeley hearing in person and heard representatives from content creation industries and service providers give their perspectives on the current state of “notice and takedown” for infringing content and what could/should be done to “fix” it.
Each speaker presented a PowerPoint, links to which can be found here and a video archive here. As with the initial hearing in March, Google was represented by its Legal Director for Copyright, Fred von Lohmann who walked the audience through Google’s “DMCA notice and takedown tools” and highlighted what he called the company’s “trusted submitter program.” In his PowerPoint, Mr. von Lohmann referenced Google blog post from 2011 “New tools for handling copyright on Blogger” that supposedly highlighted the great progress that’s been made in streamlining the process.
Listening to Mr. von Lohmann it seemed clear that his words were designed for an audience made up of government officials and industry representatives and not indie artists. He (carefully) described a two-tiered system in which “trusted” submitters have access to a wealth of takedown mechanisms to remove infringing content from Google affiliates. However, aside from YouTube, access to these “trusted” programs seems limited to the big film and music entities.
Specifically, with regard to Blogger, the criteria as to how one becomes a part of this so-called “trusted submitter” program remains murky and ill-defined. Immediately following the event I searched Google to find out more (and how to apply) I only came across a link to Mr. von Lohmann’s USPTO PowerPoint. There was nothing on any Google site to answer the question as to how indie rights holders could utilize this so-called “tool.” Since there was no more information to be found, shortly after the event I took to Twitter to ask @flohmann directly for a clarification on his presentation. The response thus far, only crickets…
In addition to this lack of clarity as to who exactly can take advantage of certain tools, Mr. von Lohmann’s careful characterization of his company efficient takedown system did not match my user experience, particularly with regard to Blogger. Over these past few years I’ve documented time and time again the many ways Blogger--and therefore Google–fails to live up to its promises to remove infringing content from its platforms.
Yet, according to Google’s self-published, self-serving report, “How Google Fights Piracy,” (that I’ve criticized in a previous post) the company continues to insist that it’s proactive fighting piracy on its Blogger web-publishing platform:
We remain vigilant against the use of the Blogger platform by pirates looking to set up a free website…we will remove infringing blog posts when properly notified by a copyright owner, and will terminate the entire blog [emphasis added] where multiple complaints establish it as a repeat infringer.
Sorry, but the facts clearly don’t match up with this corporate hyperbolic PR spin. Truth be told, Blogger’s takedown system is, in reality, a hot mess. Add Google Drive to the mix and company claims of a “streamlined” takedown process seem even more absurd.
- Blogger content that is reported as infringing takes weeks, not days to remove.
- Blogger hosted blogs that are in the business of promoting pirated movies remain online despite multiple, repeated DMCA notices and despite clear evidence they exist to pirate films.
- The Google DMCA takedown procedure is not easy to navigate. Once users find it, they must repeatedly choose options in order to (eventually) get to the correct takedown form, even someone well versed in the procedure. Why not offer direct links to the correct forms for each platform?
- Blogger’s website templates offer no direct links to Google’s (streamlined) takedown form. Why can’t Blogger hosted sites automatically provide a button/link in their menu bar or footer, designed as part of any page template to enable easy and direct access to Google’s “streamlined” takedown form?
- Google Drive takedown procedures are convoluted and unclear. No easy way to determine file’s URL to report and no direct link to report.
- When a file is reported on Google drive it can take weeks, not days, to remove the infringing content.
Rather than fulfill its promise to expedite takedowns for copyright infringement, it seems that the “Google Team” does everything within its power to make the process convoluted, cumbersome and difficult–particularly for individual artists who don’t have the deep pockets to hire help and/or automate the takedown workflow. Please take some time to review the graphics that I’ve created that illustrate just how badly Google is doing when it comes to Blogger (and Google Drive) takedowns.
Given the complexity (and hilarity) of attempting to remove pirated stream of our film “And Then Came Lola” (seen in the example above) hosted on Google Drive I made the following video that will walk viewers through the process. Weirdly I was able to find the URL (that was not the case with some of the other examples I’ve provided) yet that didn’t help much since pirated copy is still, as of today, June 1st, available on line–more than two weeks after I sent a DMCA takedown notice to Google. As far as I’m concerned, when Google characterizes itself as doing a good job with this process I can only shake my head. No matter how many ways Google spins it, it’s not true.
Coming soon, Part Two: How Google Could Fix its Broken DMCA Takedown System