Recently unveiled figures have shown that Google were asked to remove approximately 345 million search results during the course of 2014. These results were all for sites that were reported for violating copyright and is twice as many as the removal requests from the previous year.
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) headed the charge for removal requests. The BPI collectively represents practically the entire British music industry, particularly in regards to record companies, and submitted an astonishing 60 million requests for removals during the year. This amounts to over 16,000 requests every single day, suggesting the company has a dedicated department for making removal requests.
The figures have been gleaned from a company called TorrentFreak, which used the weekly removal reports published by Google to determine the amount of removals. The website stated “The majority of these requests are honored with the associated links being removed from Google’s search results. However, Google sometimes takes ‘no action’ if they are seemed not to be infringing or if they have been taken down previously.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, torrent and file uploading sites bore the brint of the damage, with the likes of rapidgator.net and uploaded.net experiencing millions of removals during the course of 2014.
The guardian attempted to attain comments from both Google and the BPI, with Google stating “Online piracy still remains a challenge, and Google takes that challenge seriously. We develop and deploy anti-piracy solutions with the support of hundreds of Google employees. This regular report details those efforts, as well as how Google products and services create opportunity for creators around the world.”
Similarly the BPI were also evasive and directed the paper to a previous statement which said “When fans search for music or films, they should get legal results – it’s as simple as that. If these new steps help guide more consumers to services like Spotify, Deezer and iTunes, which give back to music, instead of to fraudulent torrent or hosting sites, then they would represent a step forward for artists, labels and all those trying to build a thriving music economy online.
“The BPI, together with colleagues from the film industry, will continue to meet with the search engines and government to ensure these measures make a real difference and to persuade Bing and Yahoo to take similar action … we are encouraged that Google has recognised the need to take further action and will continue to work with the search engines and government to build a stronger digital music sector.”
Judging by the enormous spike in removal requests, from a mere 68 when the option to request a removal was first put in place to the hundreds of millions that we now see, it is entirely likely that we will see an even larger number of requests come the end of 2015. What is also likely to affect this year’s figures are the “right to be removed” requests that were legalised in Europe in 2014. The figures also demonstrate just how much work companies are putting into fighting piracy and how heavily used Google’s tools are.