‘Impostors’ Manipulate Google With Fake Takedown Request
Art Law

‘Impostors’ Manipulate Google With Fake Takedown Request

Scammers, masquerading as legitimate copyright holders such as Netflix and Disney, are using Google DMCA takedown tools to manipulate search results. Some webmasters complain that hundreds of links are being pulled offline by the notices. Anti-piracy outfits MUSO and Blue Efficience, which are among the impersonated companies, confirm that not all requests in their name are legitimate. Over the past few years, we’ve featured our fair share of bizarre DMCA takedown articles. Most of these boil down to mistakes by automated bots or plain incompetence. More recently, however, we’ve started to notice an influx of more coordinated DMCA abuse. Scammers, posing as legitimate rightsholders and reporting agencies, are asking Google to remove hundreds of thousands if not millions of URLs. Many of these links do indeed point to pirate sites, but copyright enforcement is not the main reason why they’re sent. Instead, these takedown requests appear to be generated with the sole purpose of downranking ‘competitors.’ While many of these notices are seemingly sent on behalf of well-known companies, there are some clear red flags. They use variations of names that have not been used before, such as ‘Walt Disney LTD,’ and generate confusing entries in Google’s transparency report. […]

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