Written by Susan Neuberger Weller

On Friday, August 10, 2012, Google announced that it was changing its search algorithms so that websites with high numbers of valid copyright infringement removal notices would appear much lower in the search results. This announcement was greeted with strong approval by many online copyright content owners who have for years tried various methods of pressuring Google and other Internet site operators to take action to combat copyright infringement and piracy. Many of these large media companies had backed two anti-piracy bills before the U.S. Congress earlier this year  – known as SOPA and PIPA – which had proposed significant penalties for online pirating of copyrighted content, with particular aim at infringing foreign websites. That legislation was opposed by many constituencies, including Yahoo and Google, claiming it would abridge freedom on the Internet. The legislation ultimately died.

Google said it now receives more than 1 million copyright removal notices a week related to its search engine, and, in the last 30 days, had received over 4.3 million. To put this in perspective, the number of notices received in the last 30 days is more than what Google received for all of 2009.

It remains to be seen whether any others will follow Google’s approach, and whether this action will result in any diminishment of copyright infringement online.

 

Written by Susan Neuberger Weller

At a conference held June 18 at Stanford University Law School – The 9th Annual Stanford Ecommerce Best Practices Conference – it was reported that copyright holders are increasingly using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (“DMCA”) notice and takedown procedures to address copyright infringement on websites. Continue Reading Copyright Owners Using DMCA To Take Down URLs

Following this week’s Internet blackout by service providers and online resources opposed to the pending Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, Congressional leader have announced a postponement on future action on the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delayed a vote on PIPA scheduled for Tuesday.  In the House, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith responded by announcing that the Committee would not consider SOPA until a compromise on the legislation was reached.  Several backers of the legislation, including Senator Marc Rubio (R-Fl) who had co-sponsored PIPA, have withdrawn their support after being flooded with phone calls and messages expressing opposition to the anti-online piracy measures. But Senator Patrick Leahy, the leading sponsor of PIPA, was not swayed by the outpouring of concern over the breadth of the pending legislation.  He expressed his continued support of the legislation and warned of the continuing threats posed by online piracy and theft.  “Somewhere in China today, in Russia today, and in many other countries that do not respect American intellectual property, criminals who do nothing but peddle in counterfeit products and stolen American content are smugly watching” the controversy over the bill, he said.

In response to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) pending in Congress, several online resources have decided to make their resources unavailable for a 24 hour period.  Wikipedia, Google, Mozilla, Reddit and others have either literally gone black today or have been converted into protest pages decrying censorship and urging consumers to contact their representatives to express opposition to the pending legislation.  The protest focuses around concerns that both SOPA and PIPA contain overly broad mechanisms for the enforcement of copyright and will have the effect of stifling free expression on the Internet.  The step of blacking out content on the Internet is unprecedented and surely deserving of attention.  To the extent that the general public was unaware of SOPA and PIPA before, the protest will unquestionably have the effect of raising awareness generally.  But will it have an effect on Congress?  We’ll see.

For more information about SOPA and PIPA, click here.