Netflix, like many other rightsholders, keeps a close eye on pirate sites.
The company has its own in-house anti-piracy team and also works with third-party companies, to issue takedown requests.
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Over the past two years, the streaming giant has sent more than five million of these to Google alone. Many of them ask the search engine to remove links to pirate sites, but this week our eye was drawn to a more unusual request.
The notice in question was sent by the anti-piracy outfit Marketly, on behalf of Netflix, and identifies 250 URLs which presumably link to pirated copies of the movie “Triple Frontier.” However, on closer inspection, many of the reported links are not infringing at all.
The most obvious mistake is that the notice reports Netflix’s own listing of “Triple Frontier” as a pirate copy, requesting Google to remove it from its search index.
Google spotted the mistake and didn’t comply. However, that’s not the only error. The same takedown request also includes a variety of links to other legitimate websites. This article from The Wrap about Netflix’s streaming numbers for example, which mentions Triple Frontier, but isn’t piracy related.
The same is true for several other reported URLs. This includes a Hollywood Reporter story, this top ten list from Variety, this article from The Daily Dot, a Business Insider report, and IMDb’s news page for Triple Frontier. We could go on and on.
These findings could easily be used to once again argue that automated DMCA takedown processes are highly inaccurate. After all, if Google wasn’t sharp enough to spot these errors, legitimate content would have disappeared from the search results.
However, since we have seen our fair share of imposters over the past year, we’re not sure that this notice was sent by Marketly at all, or if Netflix has anything to do with it.
Marketly indeed works for Netflix and the streaming service does own the distribution rights to Triple Frontier. However, neither company is known for its negligence when it comes to these types of takedown efforts, although Marketly took down one of our tweets recently.
Upon closer inspection, our doubts started to grow. For one, the Marketly that sent this takedown requests has a separate listing in Google’s transparency report.
In addition, there have been other Marketly imposters recently. For example, Google has flagged this copycat as being fraudulent.
We’re more than happy and are inclined to chalk this clearly erroneous notice up as another scam attempt. Likely in an effort of a pirate site to punish competitors, as we’ve seen before.
However, that doesn’t make this less of a problem. In fact, if scammers continue to make claims like this, it will likely lead to overbroad takedowns. And with millions of URLs being submitted per day, Google will have a hard time catching them all.