back to article Google-funded study concludes: Make DMCA even more Google-friendly

The DMCA must have been a good idea in its day – almost every other country copied it. Today, the DMCA's takedown process is broken, but Silicon Valley's billionaire plantation owners have successfully convinced many that it's broken for completely different reasons. Instead of empowering the little guy to give them more …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow! I don't think I understood any of that!

    I must be getting senile in my old age.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Powerful stuff...

    But it makes me want to move planet....

  3. SuccessCase

    At last The Register is beginning to end its decade long love-in with Google. For a long time people have had it completely the wrong way round with regard to Apple and Google. Follow the money. He who pays the piper plays the tune. Apple's business model has always been simple and transparent. You pay them a premium price for a premium product, but you are their customer. They see serving the best kit they can to you and treating you as the customer as a clear proposition that leads them to riches. Steve Jobs was an arsehole, but he was an arsehole who bent all his charismatic arsehole will to beating his company and staff into serving the customer. He obsessed over it. It was the little but important things. When printer manufacturers made printer drivers start to subvert serving Mac users (by for example always defaulting to printing in colour and forcing the user to have to select to print in black and white) he became incensed and ordered the overhaul of the Macs printer driver architecture so the system provided the bulk of the printer driver and the manufacturer process what is basically a configuration profile.

    Contrast with Google. Google are incentivised by their business model to lie to you and to leech from you. They claimed a while ago that they support open source. But of course they support open source only in so far as it served to create client nodes that attach to the Google centralised data services. The Google hive. They don't open source their search algorithm.

    They claimed to be anti software patents. Everyone lapped it up. But they were only anti software patents on client devices where they wanted the freedom to rip off other businesses IP to build a world filled with client nodes connected to the Google hive. In fact their entire business was based in and protected by software patents relating to searches based in link popularity and further patents around Adwords. They used them to fire warning shots at Yahoo when they moved in to take over the ad business Yahoo used to dominate at the start of the commercial Internet. If Yahoo had used Google patented IP Google would have launched a software patent lawsuit in a nanosecond. This is rank hypocrisy of the worst kind. And at the same time as doing this they got an army of fandroids building and enhancing client nodes devices for connecting to their hive service whilst decrying the use of software patents by others (and then after the implied open source promise, closed up shop pushing more and more services into a Google play black box). The fandroids were only interested in the software patents on the devices they had in their own hands.

    They claim to be responsible custodians of your personal data, but they have statistical sampling of tracked search data where they can preserve a degree of uncertainty as to if data X actually pertains to you. So they want to have only 90% certainty X pertains to you because then they never legally have to tell you about X and on aggregate, with lots of 90% certainty data points they actually come to be close to 100% sure who X,y and z relate to you but never say it so never have to report what they know. It is now said a lot, but nevertheless it's true: with Google, you are the product and they are selling you to advertisers.

    When Tim Cook took on the FBI over encryption, he was robustly defending the clear simple business model they have. The don't want to be distrusted by their customers and want to be able to sell them secure devices. But for Google, whilst they too would prefer not to be distrusted by their customers, privacy conflicts with the access they want to their customer's data. Their response to the FBI was a perfect example of how they play both sides. The language was hedged to logical oblivion and actually said nothing of substance "could be a troubling precedent", "might make users less secure" etc. whilst saying nothing about their commitment to keeping such data stored in their servers encrypted.

    Maybe my distrust of Google goes too far, but somehow I think not. In fact I think general distrust of Google doesn't go nearly far enough.

  4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    But the internet ceased being like it was in 1995 a long time ago.

    In 1996, technically. 20 years ago. But thats just my inability to let a through pass, well, pass.

    Andrew - spot on. This is one of the reasons I don't "do" Facebook etc etc because I don't want to forfeit my intellectual property. I don't mind sharing some of it for free (let's face it, it's medium quality amateur stuff, on a good day, anyway), but it's mine. Or at least it should be.

    Guess it's time to take a leaf out of Chuck Berry's book: Show me the money. In cash. Up front.

  5. jake Silver badge

    Easier answer.

    Ignore google.

    It's not like they are important or anything.

    And yes, I'm completely serious. When did google do anything for you, personally? That's what I thought ...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The article seems fair enough, but I would argue the point on:

    "I doubt that in history, any wealthy elite has acquired quite so much, by doing quite so little.

    Here in Blighty we are still paying for our Royal Family, and it turns out it is quite a big family.

    They don't do much, I think they might qualify for the title of a wealthy elite acquiring the most by doing the least.

    At least in Google there are some clever people earning a living after investing in themselves through study.

    Our elite just expect money for being born.

    Doesn't excuse Google, just some perspective that us proles have been screwed for years.

    Google are just the newest bunch of bastards.

  7. dan1980

    The one word explanation of all this is: 'lobbyists'.

    Laws are made by politicians and politicians are funded by lobbyist dollars. So those with the money to throw at maintaining huge lobbying arms are those whose interests get represented when it comes time for the politicians to put pen to paper.

    Is it any wonder then that copyright law disproportionately favours the rich mega-companies?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unbelievably ignorant rant....

    What an unbelievably ignorant rant this is -- It sounds like the author has no idea of how the internet is working.

    >> if you've ever posted a photo online ...

    Why did you post it in the first place? Don't tell me somebody else did it and you lost control of your picture -- that is your fault in the first place, not somebody elses problem.

    If you are a site owner, you can just implement a valid "robots.txt" and search engines will avoid those part of your site that you specify.

    If you are using a photo sharing site -- investigate how they have implemented their robots.txt -- and if that is not to your liking then don't sign up to their service. Know your tools !

    What have happened to taking responsibilities for your own actions ????

    1. dan1980

      Re: Unbelievably ignorant rant....


      Where is this concept coming from that, just because you post an image online, you lose your rights?

      But that is not really the story - it's that Google are essentially saying: as one of the wealthiest companies on the planet, strong copyright protections would be just too much hassle for them.

  9. veti Silver badge

    'Big media' is still a thing

    As Terry Pratchett put it: "... he dreamed the dream of all those who publish books, which was to have so much gold in your pockets that you would have to employ two people just to hold your trousers up."

    Just because Google and Facebook are the dominant publishers of our time, doesn't mean all other publishers have magically disappeared. Or that they've stopped being evil. I mean, look at Sony, or News International, or Disney.

    The real battle in copyright is, as it always has been, about publishing. The balance that needs to be struck is between creators and publishers, not readers. The publishers scored a huge coup when they promulgated the meme that "we're all publishers now", on the internet - and succeeded in diverting an entire generation's worth of legislation, getting it aimed at reducing the rights of consumers, rather than strengthening creators in any way.

    Google stole that victory from the Old-School Publishers, and now the latter are mad at Google, which is what this article is about. But make no mistake, the OSPs are still the enemy just as much as Google is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Big media' is still a thing

      Google and Faceborg are not publishers. Publishers add value to the product and publicise it. Google and Faceborg are just platforms that allow users to publish and do SFA other that exploit content producers by harvesting user information and advertising over it. Old media like radio and TV and the decency to produce content and all the new media shitehawks do is devalue the content and any respect for ownership.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: 'Big media' is still a thing

        How do Google and Facebook not "add value" to the product? They identify the people who are interested in a particular item of information, and convey it to them. That's "adding value".

        In fact, it's pretty much what "publishing" is, in its purest form.

  10. DrM


    Just how evil can Google go before the majority of people seem them as what they really are? People refuse to buy gCars just because Google is involved? When will the revolt come? Do they think they can stop it as easy as ABC?

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Evil

      Well, not much further, surely. There's a grisly fate awaiting any publisher that becomes too openly evil. I mean, remember what happened to Disney, right?

      Oh, wait - nevermind then.

  11. a_yank_lurker


    The entire copyright system is broken. It does not serve the creators only the media companies who often own the copyrights.

  12. BitDr

    Do no harm....

    Wasn't that their original motto? The DMCA was signed into effect in 1998, so not 20 years ago, but close. I wonder if the original "Big-Media" would have been better off without it, as the law always protected the copyright holder; the only thing that had changed was how the works were disseminated, but distribution of anothers work without their permission, whether for profit or not, was always a no-no. The DMCA made it ridiculously easy to have works taken down on a say-so, no questions asked. This lead to claims of copyright infringement against original works, having them taken down and thereby preventing artists from being able to distribute on their own. Maintaining the status quo, keeping artists from making a go of becoming independent. SNAFU.

    Now the worm has turned, but as usual a combination of things, all with the best of intentions of course, keep content creators from independently profiting off of their efforts. Admittedly some of that "content" is garbage (the vast majority actually), but things like finding your photo being used in a billboard advert without your permission is beyond unethical, as is someone else ordering another's creative work removed on the claim (without onus to prove) that it infringes their own.

    As usual, the middle ground is where we want to be, but the pendulum never loiters at the bottom of the arc in the same way it seems to at either end of the swing.

    1. Old Handle

      That's the Hippocratic Oath your thinking of...

      Google's motto was "don't be evil."

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I support stronger copyright and DMCA to disrupt the likes of Google and Facebook. The individual should have more (inaliable) power over their digital content.

    However we'll also need a black market (DMCA ignoring) search engine to find anything. But that's OK.

  14. gerritv

    "The DMCA must have been a good idea in its day – almost every other country copied it." That is not by choice, it is because the US forces these rules into 'free trade' agreements such as the TPP, which are nothing more than the export of one-sided laws from the US. You know, the ones enacted for the benefit of corporations, not the voters who elected the easily swayed politicians.

  15. RealityisntReal

    A few items:

    Was the DMCA copied because it was a good idea? Or was it because of threats of retaliation from the US?

    This article ignores the fact that copyright has been increasing in expanse for the last 50 or more years. The length an item is under copyright protection is now vastly increased from just a few decades ago. It also ignores the huge number of fraudulent takedown notices filed - such as the dancing baby issue. The author states Google could stop copyright infringement instantly by turning on filters - totally ignoring the concept of "fair-use" long established in copyright law. A filter might be able to instantly remove all instances of a music recording, a video, or a picture - but it won't be able to account for fair-use. And the author totally ignores that right (just as many large rights holders who use bots to create takedown notices do) - the only places the word fair shows up in the article are complaints about how it isn't fair for rights holders.

    Then, when the topic of rights-holder abuses of the system comes up it is treated as a false argument. Even to the point of including a rights holders comment asking "why did researchers include this outlier's data in their results?" when talking about the model who is single handedly responsible for 50% of photo takedown notices. I'll tell you why - because it's part of the data set. When you start arbitrarily removing data that doesn't fit your desired results you are just lying with statistics.

    1. fuzzie

      Copyright revisions and realignment "IP protection" regimes are often the points of no compromise when the US (re)negotiates trade deals and tariffs or via strong-arm tactics via WTO. I'd be very reticent to claim DMCA-style adoption because it's seen to be a good idea. Often the only weasel room countries have are through less-than-vigorous enforcement or accidentally slack implementation.

  16. zarvus

    Lumen: The Laravel micro-framework.

  17. John Tserkezis


    "Do No Evil".

    My big fat hairy arse.

  18. zarvus

    This article seems a bit "won't someone think of the children and the small businesses?!" to me. It's the line that some groups throw back when they are actually trying to manipulate the plebs into working against their own interests. Are you sure this isn't a sponsored post by the RIAA or some other giant copyright/trademark mill?

    We're constantly reminded through of how easy it has become to use the DMCA takedown notice procedures to silence dissent and eliminate unfavorable opinions or news (or the threat of a lawsuit, which is a related issue). The burden then falls on the person making use of the content, whether through fair use or other legitimate means, and in those cases it's rarely the giant companies feeling the effects. The giant companies are the ones using services to generate automatic DMCA takedown notices. Bots talking to bots. You're also arguing that Google could easily filter content if it wanted to, but it isn't for commercial reasons. I'd be interested in knowing how many takedown notices are actually filed by individuals or small companies vs. behemoth or paid watchdogs who are scraping the internet looking for infringement.

    The problem is that any system such as the DMCA itself and the DMCA takedown notice system that makes it easy for solo dude to assert his rights makes it exponentially easy for huge corporations to abuse and use as a hammer. I have no clue how to fix that.

  19. mlok_Karel

    Not a very funny April Fools article

    And why would you publish it on April 2nd?

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Google. "selling youre imagery like it's our own."

    I think that about sums it up.

    I also see a market for a "DCMA documentation" generation app.

    Funny how people respond when something is made much easier to do.

  21. Danny 2

    Google Free since March 2016

    Hiya El Reg,

    In a fit of informed petulance I decided to dump Google last month. I jettisoned my Gmail account, or as I normally have to sign in here, my GoogleMail account ("Our records show you have been a member since 2007-04-11").

    By chance I haven't cleared my cookies yet, because I don't want to ditch this esteemed (steaming?) magazine. So I updated my details here to change my email address, and as told "We've sent a verification email to" my old gmail address. Catch 22.

    I'm the poor sod who has been on trial for BoP, since Drew gave me my bronze badge, and my trial date has been pushed back till sometime in summer - I'm basically Job. I 'm not asking for sympathy, I would however like a little help changing my email address here without having to sign in to google again. or dot ch, preferably both.

    I've suffered enough and that bronze badge is all I've got left. My cat died a week ago. My dad is getting a pacemaker fitted next week. Please don't make me re~register just because your automated log-in/ change-of-details process is slightly dafter than a Google April's fool. Or at least tell me which of these bloody cookies I have to preserve for eternity to keep my login here.

  22. tiggity Silver badge


    A rather one sided article.

    A major problem is there are no real world penalties for invalid takedown requests.

    A lot of media companies use automated tools to detect a portion of their content e.g. a portion of a sound recording they have rights to, portion of a video clip etc.

    These automated takedowns tend to cause major problems as, though usually the content is correctly identified (the days of massive false positives are long gone), the content is often used legally - get silly scenarios where a music company posts a takedown of promotional stuff they had posted (& so have rights to) onto a site, but more seriously get takedowns when content protected by fair use rules in the US, a classic example of this was a lecture on fair use, that included various short clips and was explaining why use of each clip was allowed under US fair use rules was itself taken down.

    That is a very different scenario from a well researched takedown request.

    A legitimate takedown request is fine, it is the erroneous requests that cause grief and so a lot of people think there should be some form of penalty imposed on vexatious requests.

    For those with an interest in such things I recommend techdirt for all your DMCA news needs, here's a random article

  23. Chris Evans

    OSP = Online service provider

    Not my area but I'm presuming OSP = Online service provider?

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