Google piracy crackdown sees 8 illegal links deleted every second

A transparency report from Google has revealed its herculean efforts to deal with the staggering numbers of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requests it receives to pull “pirate” links from its indexes. In the last week of September alone, Google took down a record breaking 5.3 million infringing links – an amount that adds up to just under nine links every second.

Copyright holder heavyweights, like the Record Industry Association of America, have long led the fight against the illegal sharing of film and music files online. Claiming that piracy devastates their revenue, between July and October last year around 1.8 million link takedown notices were filed by disgruntled industry bosses. The explosive growth to 5.3 million filings in the final week September alone marks a 4008 per cent increase in removal requests.

From the figures for last month, we can see that the file-hosting site ZippyShare was top of the copyright holder hit list, with more than 830 anti-piracy outfits lobbying for the removal of 922,946 URLs. Second and third place were taken by Dilandau and BeeMP3, two music linking sites who chalked up 918,000 and 698,985 takedown requests respectively. Also branded with spots in the top five were file-hosting search engine FilesTube (with a hefty 585,338 URLs) and file-hoster Rapidgator (569,580 URLs).

But in opposition to this tidal wave of anti-piracy action, the London School of Economics (LSE) has published a report saying that “evidence does not support claims about overall revenue reduction due to individual online copyright infringement”.

“The marketing benefits and sales boosts arising from the sharing of films online art starting to be seen as compensating for losses in revenue due to infringing sharing, and the digital world is thriving on ubiquitous digital content sharing.”

In fact, according to the report, UK revenues from online music were considerably higher than those for both CDs and vinyl combined in 2013. Contrary to claims, this demonstrates growth in the sector compounded by the fact that global sales of recorded music also increased in 2012 for the first time since 1999.

The report follows up similar findings by the LSE in 2011, where it suggested that the decline in physical sales of recorded music could not be blamed solely on illegal file sharing. Instead, changing patterns in music consumption, the prevalence of legal digital downloads, the popularity of streaming sites such as Spotify and the fact that consumers have far less money to spend are all factors in financial losses, LSE reported.

Regardless, the recent spike in takedown requests has made it clear that copyright holders are clamping down on content piracy and it seems likely that they won’t be letting up any time soon.