A few weeks ago Walled Culture wrote about how it is possible to deploy the flawed copyright takedown system for anti-competitive purposes. In that case it was the e-commerce company Shopify that alleged its customers were being harmed by false DMCA notices. Now Google has joined in with an important lawsuit that aims to combat the “weaponisation of copyright law”, as the company puts it. Google’s filing says that this weaponisation has been taking place on a huge scale for the case in question:
Over the last few years and continuing to the present, Defendants – led by two individuals, Defendants Nguyen and Pham – have created at least 65 Google accounts so they could submit thousands of fraudulent notices of copyright infringement against more than 117,000 third-party website URLs. Defendants appear to be connected with websites selling printed t-shirts, and their unlawful conduct aims to remove competing third-party sellers from Google Search results. Defendants have maliciously and illegally exploited Google’s policies and procedures under the DMCA to sabotage and harm their competitors.
Google says that the losses suffered by one of its customers were substantial:
In the most egregious case, from August to December 2022, Defendants submitted fraudulent takedown requests targeting more than 35,000 website URLs from a Google customer that spends tens of millions of dollars per year on Search Ads. Defendants’ fraudulent takedown requests caused that Google customer’s daily website traffic to drop significantly during the 2022 holiday season – the most critical time of the year for retailers – resulting in over $5 million in revenue losses for that customer (and its sellers), with a corresponding loss to Google of between $2 and $3 million, before Google was able to reinstate all the targeted URLs.
Also notable is the fact that the defendants in this case are alleged to have posted a video describing their approach on Google’s own YouTube in November 2022, with the title “2022 SEO 3 minutes to take top 1 google by Fake DMCA complaints.” Google’s filing includes the video’s description (also shown above):
2022 SEO tips: 3 minutes to take top 1 google by Fake DMCA complaints
How to tak top1 google?
Black hat seo can do it. Make a fake DMCA for Compertier and you will get top 1 google in the 3 minutes, DMCA Takedown Notices please search it on google.
This might rank as one of the more blatant cases of copyright being weaponised, but it’s certainly not the only one. It’s great that Google is tackling this scourge directly, but now the company needs to do this on a regular and routine basis.
Featured image by Google.
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