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​Google's soaring piracy link-removal requests hit 65 million last month

Piracy-related link takedown requests received by Google continue to climb, despite the availability of legitimate alternatives such as Spotify and Netflix.

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Copyright-related link removals each week. Source: Google

The number of piracy-related takedown requests Google receives from copyright owners and others has doubled over the past year, hitting a new record of 65 million requests last month.

The new figure comes from Google's regularly updated Transparency Report, in which it publishes the number of takedown requests together with the reasons for the requests, which span government, copyright and Europe's 'right to be forgotten' law.

Copyright owners and "reporting organisations" last month requested over 65 million URLs be removed from Google's search results, up from 30 million a month just over a year ago. And those figures exclude requests concerning copyrighted content on YouTube.

Piracy link takedowns in search dwarf the 1.2 million URLs Google has assessed under European privacy law since May and the few hundred URLs targeted by governments each year.

The new piracy-link record was documented earlier this week by TorrentFreak, which noted the number of links targeted for removal per day has climbed from a few hundred in 2011 to two million today.

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The piracy-related requests that landed at Google last month came from 5,492 copyright owners and 2,514 reporting organisations, such as the British Recorded Music Industry and anti-piracy firms like AudioLock, which specialise in DMCA notifications. Google also lists the top five domains specified in requests each month.

While recent anti-piracy efforts have homed in on the new threat posed by BitTorrent media player Popcorn Time, the MPAA has been critical of search engines as the key discovery tool for pirated content.

While Google has built automated systems to support the vast amount of piracy removal requests it gets, it has warned that bogus copyright infringement allegations can be used for censorship or to stifle competition.

It also favours improved online content services such as iTunes, Netflix and Spotify as a better answer to piracy than enforcement.

Still, the ever-increasing volume of copyright requests doesn't look good, given the availability of these services and Google's own efforts to downrank links to DMCA sites.

However, Google's US ISP Google Fiber takes a different approach, reportedly sending some subscribers copyright infringement notices.

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