Google released its latest transparency report this week. It provides a key insight into its ‘takedown request tool’.

The Google removal tool is the feature of the search engine giant which allows users to request that certain URL’s are removed from Google searches. Google then reviews said removal requests and if they are defamatory or breach their terms and conditions, the URL will be removed from Google search results.

The data released in the search engines latest transparency report provided the industry with the detailed data sets of all the takedown requests that have been logged with the Google removal tool.

There have been nearly one hundred million takedown requests on the basis of copyright infringement alone. Furthermore of these one hundred million, 45 million of these requests were lodged by the British Phonographic Institution (BPI) or BPI related companies. These dwarfed the number of infringement related takedown requests lodged by others in the industry such as NBC Universal, Warner Brothers and Fox.

The BPI has in fact combined its various related organisations under the BPI Ltd member companies to lodge removal requests. In tandem they use web crawling technology to trawl through the web for copyright infringing files with the goal of blasting Google with a series of rapid automated notifications.

BPI have furthermore stated that the rate of takedown requests it has lodged would have been significantly higher if it weren’t for the 250,000 daily limit that Google has enshrined in its takedown policy. This seems to indicate that in the fight against copyright infringement, the BPI has begun to target searches as well as the infringing content itself.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor commented on the matter. He commented that “Google knows full well, from millions of notices and from court decisions, which sites are illegal. Yet it turns a blind eye to that information and chooses to keep on driving traffic and revenues to the online black market, ahead of legal retailers.”

He further argued that “it’s time for Google to be held to the same standards of behaviour as everyone else. It has enormous power as a gatekeeper to the Internet. If it won’t choose to behave ethically and responsibly, it’s time for governments and regulators to take action.”

The transparency report also released data concerning the amount of takedown requests lodged by various governments. The figure of government takedown requests equaled over 2,400. This was in fact a 68% increase from the previous transparency report figures.

The fight against copyright infringement is one the industry has been fighting for years. The fact that they are now turning to Google searches just goes to show the emerging importance of said searches.

For those of us in online reputation management, this just underscores the fact that Google is the most used search engine on earth. It makes sense that its removal tool would see such a high volume of traffic.

The removal tool can be used by companies and individuals with defamatory content appearing in their search results – Google won’t always remove the content and substantiation is often required for content to be removed.

For more information about online reputation management please contact Simon Wadsworth on email: or phone: +44 (0) 203 542 8686. 

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