This week, Google announced that it will make the data it publishes on the number of DMCA takedown requests it receives downloadable, making it easier for everyone to analyze the information. While we are pleased to see Google take another important step toward meaningful transparency, Google’s reading of the data in the blog post accompanying the announcement is missing some critical perspective: if the process is cumbersome for Google, it is even more cumbersome for the creators and makers who must constantly be on the lookout to protect their work from theft.
There is a staggering amount of copyright infringement taking place every day online and much of it is facilitated by Google, as their own data shows. According to Google, they receive 2.5 million takedown requests per week – and that data does not even include YouTube, where an enormous amount of infringement takes place. That means that by Google’s own accounting, millions of times each week creators are forced to raise a complaint with Google that the company is facilitating the theft of their work and ask that the infringing work or the link to that work be removed. Often, even when the links are removed, they pop right back up a few hours later. That’s not a reasonable -- or sustainable -- system for anyone.
One thing that’s important to make clear in any serious discussion about tackling online theft: absolutely no one is advocating for the restriction of speech on the Internet. Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of the Internet, and a cornerstone of the film community, which has spent the last century advocating for artists to be able to express themselves freely on the screen. Removing infringing works online isn’t limiting access to information or ideas, it’s ensuring that the creativity and hard work that went into making a film is encouraged to flourish.
We couldn’t agree more with Google that this data shows that our current system is not working – for creators, or for Google. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that it also confirms the important role that Google has to play in helping curb the theft of creative works while protecting an Internet that works for everyone. We look forward to continuing to work with them to tackle this urgent challenge.