If you thought you could find any website through Google, know that the search engine now blocks more than three million domain names.
Rightsholders and sites offering illegal content have been playing cat and mouse for several years. Sometimes the beneficiaries win their case – we remember the Pirate Bay affair. Other times, nothing stops the community of developers who publish projects such as Popcorn Time, which flourish in various places on the Web.
So to block their access, rights holders regularly ask Google to de-list several domain names. More than three million have been blocked to date, according to TorrentFreak, with nearly 4.8 billion URLs deleted from the engine index.
A public report
Google posted all content removal requests in its transparency report. For example, the 1fichier.com site, known to regularly host illegal content, has been reported to Google by 430 rights holders, including FOX, NBC, Walt Disney, Capcom, and Warner. The site would have violated the copyrights of 1,800 companies such as FOX, Canal +, or even Netflix.
According to TorrentFreak, a detailed analysis of this report shows that 500 million links (roughly 10% of all unlisted links) were attached to only 30 different domains (or 0.001% of blocked domains).
A process not always mastered
As websites offering illegal content flourish across the web, their content is growing. Some may therefore use the programming interfaces of third-party services to broadcast, for a given film or series, contextual information such as the synopsis of the story or the casting. The same goes for illegal music platforms that collect information about artists.
These contents are generally from legitimate services: IMDb is only a database belonging to Amazon. But among those with rights, we do not take half measures. According to Torrent Freak, they have asked Google to remove some 5,077 links pointing to IMDb and 8,198 URLs from Discogs.
And sometimes the hiccups go a little further. What astonishment to learn in February 2013 that the HBO television channel wanted Google to block the domain hbo.com! Disney and Netflix sites have also been listed in error by the rights holders