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|Title:||Website removal from search engines due to copyright violation|
|Citation:||Strzelecki, A (2018) Website removal from search engines due to copyright violation. Aslib Journal of Information Management https://doi-org.ezproxy.lib.gla.ac.uk/10.1108/AJIM-05-2018-0108|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||Data sets were obtained from transparency reports issued by Google and Bing search engines, which were thereafter compiled according to factors which determined the status of copyright removal requests. In total, this resulted in an analysis of 3.2 billion removed pages from Google, and 460 million removed pages from Bing.|
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||Yes|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
“Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to clarify how many removal requests are made, how often, and who makes these requests, as well as which websites are reported to search engines so they can be removed from the search results.
Design/methodology/approach - Undertakes a deep analysis of more than 3.2bn removed pages from Google’s search results requested by reporting organizations from 2011 to 2018 and over 460m removed pages from Bing’s search results requested by reporting organizations from 2015 to 2017. The paper focuses on pages that belong to the .pl country coded top-level domain (ccTLD).
Findings - Although the number of requests to remove data from search results has been growing year on year, fewer URLs have been reported in recent years. Some of the requests are, however, unjustified and are rejected by teams representing the search engines. In terms of reporting copyright violations, one company in particular stands out (AudioLock.Net), accounting for 28.1 percent of all reports sent to Google (the top ten companies combined were responsible for 61.3 percent of the total number of reports).
Research limitations/implications - As not every request can be published, the study is based only what is publicly available. Also, the data assigned to Poland is only based on the ccTLD domain name (.pl); other domain extensions for Polish internet users were not considered.
Originality/value = This is first global analysis of data from transparency reports published by search engine companies as prior research has been based on specific notices.”
Main Results of the Study
The majority of removal requests are issued from music and movie companies (including but not limited to, BPI, IFPI, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment), with the top-eight reporters being based in the UK and Germany. Ten of these companies are responsible for over 60% of all reported URLs. A single organisation called AudioLock.Net was responsible for over a million URL removal requests, being 28.1% of all reports sent to Google. This shows a preference for rights holders to utilise specialist companies which exclusively search and report copyright violations.
There is an irregularity in the number of URL removal requests issued over time, making it difficult to discern any particular trend. The study finds in particular that the number of requests may vary from time to time per country. However, there is a relatively consistent decrease in URL removal requests post-2015, which the author ascribes to an improvement of copyright respect from users, and better/clearer reporting practices from requestors (e.g. which has improved over time).
Bing removes more URLs when requested than Google (91% of those reported as opposed to 99.9%), possibly due to ease of use of reporting form, or due to Google’s ranking system. This suggests that most requests for URL removal for a copyright violation are successful more often than not.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Whilst the study does not make any explicit policy recommendations, they caution that there is a lack of transparency on the part of search engines regarding the specific rules and criteria which determine whether a URL is removed, or not removed. At the same time, the number of requests and removals of URLs are increasing. This implies an over-cautious stance on the part of search engines, who may find themselves subject to a copyright claim under the DMCA regardless of the merits of the copyright claim.