The American Society of Composers has asked Google to remove hundreds of URLs from its search results. The flagged pages are accused of ‘circumventing DRM’ but the anti-piracy outfit casts its net too wide. One of the reported links points to a TorrentFreak news article about a DRM circumvention lawsuit.
At TorrentFreak, we have written hundreds of articles about dubious takedown notices. Today, we find ourselves at the center of another one.
Earlier this week the ‘American Society of Composers’ sent a series of “DRM Circumvention” complaints to Google, acting on behalf of the Video Industry Association of America.
These notices are similar to standard DMCA takedown requests but focus on content that violates the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision. And there’s another important distinction. Unlike normal takedown notices, there is no option to appeal a wrongful accusation.
Irreversable DRM Circumvention Takedowns
Whether the site operators agree with the takedowns or not, they are generally irreversible. The DMCA doesn’t prescribe a takedown and counter-notification scheme for these notices and Google previously confirmed that it doesn’t have an official appeal process either.
This puts the targets of these recent notices at a severe disadvantage. That includes TorrentFreak, as one of our news articles was reported as well. Not once, but in four separate takedown requests.
The news article in question covers legal developments in the lawsuit against Blu-Ray ripping software DVDFab, which dates back five years ago. However, the American Society of Composers sees something else.
“These links provides the circumventive measures to download the copyrighted video or audio content by bypassing the copyright protection of streaming services including Netflix, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, Dailymotion, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music etc,” their takedown notice reads.
Google Takes No Action
When we started writing this article, it appeared that the article was indeed removed from search results but, on closer inspection, it’s still listed. Whether we missed it the first time around or whether Google stepped in is not clear.
Needless to say, we don’t like to see our articles removed from search engines based on inaccurate claims. Especially when there’s no formal appeal process, but luckily no action is needed from our end.
If these sites disagree with the takedowns, they can try to reach out to the copyright holder and ask them to retract their claim. However, the “Video Industry Association of America” has no presence on the Internet at all.
The same is true for the American Society of Composers. This sounds a lot like the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, better known as ASCAP, but that organization has no connections to the movie industry.
At this point, we’re not even sure if these organizations exist. That’s something affected sites could bring up in counternotice, if only that was an option.
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.