Microsoft Asks Google to Censor Piracy Pages

Dennis Faas's picture

According to Google, Microsoft asked the search service to remove more than 500,000 links from its results pages because they directed people to sites containing pirated software.

The revelations come via Google's "Transparency Index", which lists requests from governments and corporations to censor information in its databanks. (Source:

The figures cover only complaints specifically relating to the Google search index, not to other Google-owned sites, such as YouTube. They also cover only requests made online, rather than through fax or postal mail.

During the past month, Google received complaints covering a total of 1.25 million website pages contained in 24,000 different sites. The complaints covered material owned by 1,296 different copyright owners.

Microsoft Clear Leader In Complaints To Google

Microsoft was by far the major complainer to Google about copyright infringement during this period, perhaps reflecting that it is the most common target of software pirates.

Microsoft told Google that a total of 543,378 web pages housed its pirated material, and that the software giant wanted the links to these sites taken down.

Second place on the complaints chart was BPI, which represents the British record industry. It lodged complaints with Google about 162,601 infringing pages. That number was just ahead of NBC Universal, which asked for links to 145,934 pages to be removed.

Adult entertainment company Elegant Angel and members of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) rounded out the list of the top five complainers to Google. (Source:

Google Confirms Some Complaints Bogus

Unlike the figures for government requests, this data doesn't detail what proportion of each company's complaints Google judged valid. However, the search company notes in general that cases of both deliberate and mistaken bogus complaints make up about three per cent of all cases.

In one such incident, an entertainment company complained about a page which turned out to host no copyrighted material, and contained a negative review of the firm's product.

Although this data has only just been made public, Google has been tracking these figures since July of 2011. It reports a significant rise in removal requests since then, from between 100,000 and 200,000 a week last summer to around 300,000 a week now.

Google also provided details about the sites which were the target of complaints. Almost one-third came from a single site: filestube, which is a search engine linking to various file-hosting sites.

Most of the sites near the top of the list of alleged offenders specialize in file-sharing, using both the Bit Torrent system and direct downloading. Surprisingly, the high-profile The Pirate Bay site ranked only 15th on the list.

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