Microsoft Tops List of Google Takedown Requests

In its annual transparency report, Google reveals that it is receiving more than a million requests a month to remove sites from its search. The majority of these are not from governments concerned about the revelation of  sensitive or unflattering information but from copyright owners including Microsoft, NBC Universal, Universal Music Ltd. and Sony Music. All told, Google now receives more than 250,000 requests a week, more than it did in total for 2009.

Just in the past month, Google received over 1.2 million requests for URLs to be removed from its search from over 23,000 websites on behalf of 1,322 copyright owners. Indeed, in 2011, Google received 3.3 million requests for removals; it expects that number to quadruple this year. The most targeted website was, which enables users to find downloadable files (audio, video and documents); file sharing site was the next most-targeted. Google complies with 97% of removal requests and said that it usually takes about eleven hours to remove links.

As Dominic Ruche (from the Guardian via Raw Story) notes, the notable increase in removal requests follows the defeat of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was supported by the largest media companies in the world and the likes of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). SOPA was virulently opposed by the technology community whose all-out online protest against it led to the measure being tabled.

Microsoft’s dominance is also its Achilles’ heel: 90 percent of all PCs run Windows and 95 percent of users use its Office software, so these products are “a major target for illegal file-sharers” and indeed, “the most pirated bits of software on the Web,” says Zack Whittaker in ZDNet. Microsoft can only do so much in fighting the “global piracy battle”; requesting that Google remove links to pirated copies of its software is often all that it can do.

Emphasizing that “transparency is a crucial element to making this system work well,” Fred von Lohmann, Google’s senior copyright counsel, notes that copyright holders are overstepping and even abusing their powers in some cases. As he writes on the Google blog:

At the same time, we try to catch erroneous or abusive removal requests. For example, we recently rejected two requests from an organization representing a major entertainment company, asking us to remove a search result that linked to a major newspaper’s review of a TV show. The requests mistakenly claimed copyright violations of the show, even though there was no infringing content. We’ve also seen baseless copyright removal requests being used for anticompetitive purposes, or to remove content unfavorable to a particular person or company from our search results.

Media companies continue to express frustration, and exasperation, towards Google. Says BPI boss Geoff Taylor in the BBC,

“It’s wrong for Google to be wilfully blind to the clear data it has that particular sites are massive copyright infringers.”

“When Google has been told 100,000 times that sites like The Pirate Bay and beemp3 distribute music illegally, why do they come top – above Amazon and iTunes – when I search for ‘download music’? It’s irresponsible, it misleads consumers and if Google won’t sort it out voluntarily, Government should get on with doing something about it.”

Is Google being “willfully blind” — should governments step in and regulate Google’s search? Or should it be left to us users to avoid sites (and downloads) that infringe copyrights?
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Photo by bfishadow


Huber F.
Huber F5 years ago


Robert Miles
Robert Miles5 years ago

It looks like time to start spreading word about a program designed as a substitute for Microsoft Office, and offered free. Microsoft does not own a copyright on it, so they can't get Google to exclude it from web searches.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

great article, thanks for sharing!

Rachel P.
Rachel k5 years ago

I'm sure those monopolies like Microsoft would like censorship, it helps competition. Just like our politics, paying to have what you want said/heard is easier than being honest Americans.

Kasia Y.
Kasia Y.5 years ago

Microsoft knows it's on the way out. Twenty two years ago, Linux didn't exist. Ten years ago nearly 1% of computers on the planet were using it. Today it's 5% for Linux. For the same reason that the record industry is fighting online music sharing (they cannot control WHO becomes a band on the radio) Microsoft is fighting back (because they want to control WHAT operating system you use). This is all typical business as usual practice, cheating and manipulating so they get lots of money and you get ripped off. This is why I use Linux and I do not listen to music produced by large record companies (you'll be amazed at the variety and quality of independent bands and artists).

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P5 years ago


Sue H.
Sue H5 years ago

"Government" can't take care of running the country without some sort of corruption rearing it's ugly head. So, I'd say let folks make an effort to do the right thing next time they think about getting something for nothing.

Barbara Mathiews
Barbara Mathiews5 years ago

Thanks for the information.

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

B. Gates left a 'back' door for the government to get into peoples files.

So as far as I am concerned....the people can go into any thing Gates builds. As was all ready stated..Gates stole part of his system from the Apple people.

The copy right stuff is understandable...but the companies that are complaining, is makeing millions a year already.

I guess that isn't enough.......

marc page
Marc P5 years ago

Make your products more affordable and stop screwing the average person trying to use your stuff and people won't have to steal it. Stop making it cost over $100.00 for a family of 4 to go to the movies, AND make movies that are designed for the big screen instead of creating trash that is designed to be shown on a TV in 6 months and people will stop pirating movies. The real problem is that these industries want the unfettered capability to rape their customer's wallet with impunity. AND these companies want the Government (That would be US!!!) to pay to allow it. Meanwhile they pay no taxes.