Google has recently submitted comments to a US Copyright Office consultation, giving the DMCA a vote of support, although stressing widespread abuse. The company had to admit that DMCA allows for innovation and agreements with copyright owners, but 99.95% of links Google was asked to take down in January didn't even exist in its search index.
According to DMCA, American ISPs don’t have to proactively police infringing user content, but have to remove it following the content creator’s complaint. However, now the copyright holders complain that the law is failing them in terms of the so-called “safe harbor” provision that protects ISPs. This is why the US Copyright Office is now running an extended public consultation, with all stakeholders expected to submit their comments.
Google argued with the entertainment industry which believes that the DMCA is “failing”: the company pointed out that rogue sites have been driven out of the US by an effective DMCA and suggested leaving the law intact. At the same time, Google recommended to encourage voluntary mechanisms between content owners and service providers.
Google brought its YouTube-based Content ID as an example of such collaboration. This system allows copyright holders to take down or monetize infringing content. Besides, Google offers takedown tools to rights holders in respect of Google search.
However, the company experiences some problems with takedown provisions, as lots of DMCA notices are duplicate, unnecessary, or bogus – in particular, most of takedown requests submitted to Google are for URLs that have never been in its search index or search results. For instance, the company received 16,457,433 URLs from one of the most prolific submitters last months, 99.97% of which appeared never existing in Google’s search index in the first place. And this is not an outstanding incident – the search giant admits that 99.95% of all submitted URLs in January were not in its index.
In all other respects, Google seems comfortable with the current DMCA law, taking some voluntary measures that go beyond the requirements of Section 512 of the DMCA. In other words, the company sees the DMCA as a law it can work with. Unfortunately, the copyright holders see things differently.