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The Mystery Movie Studio Targeting Critics in Google’s Copyright Report

By Alyssa Rosenberg  

"The Mystery Movie Studio Targeting Critics in Google’s Copyright Report"

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There are lots of interesting tidbits in Google’s new efforts to report the takedown notices it receives and to explain how it complies. NBCUniversal is, by a wide margin, the content company that’s most aggressive about issuing takedown notices, asking that 1,073,536 URLs be yanked since Google began collecting data, trailing Microsoft, with 2,717,163, and leading the RIAA member organizations with 445,189. HBO, despite having one of the most-pirated shows in the world in Game of Thrones, comes in only at 55th, with takedown notices filed against 17,303 URLs, representing 1,136 domains. There’s been a general upward trend in the number of takedown notices Google’s received since it began aggregating this data in 2011, with a particularly sharp recent spike, which could be due to an attempt to lock down leaks from May sweeps, or a recognition that with SOPA or a similar bill not forthcoming, the studios will have to beef up their reporting efforts.

But perhaps the most interesting bit of data in the report comes in the form of two accidental blind items in the section of the report where Google explains some of the illegitimate requests it’s fielded and turned down. Among them: “A U.S. reporting organization working on behalf of a major movie studio requested removal of a movie review on a major newspaper website twice” and “A major U.S. motion picture studio requested removal of the IMDb page for a movie released by the studio, as well as the official trailer posted on a major authorized online media service.”

I would be endlessly curious to know which movie studios, or people working on their behalf thought it would be a smart move to treat critics and news organizations—some of the last people defending the idea that it’s hard and expensive to create excellent content and it requires a carefully-calibrated business environment to make it work—like they were pirates. And I’d love to know why they thought they’d have a chance of getting away with it.

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