Google has filed a lawsuit in the northern district of California against two men who allegedly used the DMCA takedown request mechanism to try to remove competitor URLs from the search results. The lawsuit writes that the “defendants have weaponized copyright law’s notice-and-takedown process and used it not for its intended purpose of expeditiously removing infringing content, but instead to have the legitimate content of their competitors removed based on false allegations.”
The lawsuit. You can read the PDF document of the lawsuit over here; it says:
“Google brings this action to stop Defendants’ systematic abuse of Google accounts to
submit a barrage of fraudulent copyright takedown requests aimed at removing hundreds of thousands
of their competitors’ website URLs from Google Search results. Defendants have weaponized copyright law’s notice-and-takedown process and used it not for its intended purpose of expeditiously removing infringing content, but instead to have the legitimate content of their competitors removed based on false allegations. Defendants’ illegal, fraudulent scheme harms consumers, third-party businesses, and
Google; stifles competition; and threatens to tarnish Google’s trusted brand.”
More details. The lawsuit claims that two individuals created at least 65 Google accounts to submit thousands of fake DMCA claims. These were filed against 117, third-party website URLS in the space of selling printed t-shirts.
“Over the past few years, Nguyen, Pham and those working with them, are said to have created at least 65 Google accounts to send confirmed bogus notices targeting 117,000 URLs, plus another 500,000 URLs via notices that Google suspects are fraudulent too,” reported TorrentFreak.
Why we care. Google clearly wants to send a message to anyone trying to use the DMCA takedown request to harm competitors withing Google Search or to try to boost their own rankings by removing those listings above them. We believe this is the first lawsuit filed by Google over such allegations and it may not be the last.