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Netflix Flags Their Own Website for Piracy and Sends Takedown Notice to Google

By Bill Toulas / June 3, 2019

The DMCA copyright protection system is one that produces pretty funny moments and confusing situations. The internet is a vast place with its content being contributed by millions daily, so checking and reporting piracy has become a tedious effort that is gradually passed to AI-based tools. However, neither these tools nor the human teams that scan the Web are free of errors, and so we often have stories of self-inflicted harm. In this latest story, a company working on behalf of Netflix named “Marketly” has submitted DMCA notices to Google that concern 250 URLs. Many of these URLs are Netflix.com webpages, and they have no relation to pirating activities whatsoever.

dmca notice URL list

Image source: lumendatabase.org

This is not the first time that we see wrongful DMCA notices being submitted to Google, and as long as this bulk system continues to characterize the process of online copyright protection, we will continue to see cases like this one. Not long ago, we presented news about how various copyright owners targeted IMDb URLs with DMCA notices, pulling the rug under their own feet in terms of business and material promotion. Both back then and now, Google spotted the errors and didn’t comply with the removal requests from its search results.

If Google weren’t so careful, we would have hundreds of legitimate URLs being removed from Google search results each day, with the responsibility burdening the copyright holders and their representatives. In the case of Netflix, the company’s internal teams and their external collaborators have sent over five million takedown requests to Google in the past two years. With many of them being erroneous, it is Google who is called to save the day, and so far they have been doing so. Marketly’s DMCA notice isn’t only targeting Netflix’s Triple Frontier webpage, but other legitimate websites that have nothing to do with piracy. In the list, there are posts that review the movie without infringing any copyrights, so they are actually promoting Netflix and its original content.

However, this may not be a mistake but the work of an impostor problem that plagues Marketly. Recently, Google has flagged another DMCA notice that allegedly came from this company, but in reality, was submitted by fraudsters. Pirate sites are not only fighting against copyright holders but also with each other, so submitting DMCA notices that push the offerings of competitors out of Google search results is a classic method to help them increase their traffic. Whatever the case is, this story is highlighting once again that the system of DMCA notices is far from perfect, and can be abused.

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