The Dark Art of Fake DMCA Takedown Requests

08/05/2016 09:58 am ET
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At least once during your tenure as an internet user, it’s likely you’ve scrolled to the bottom of Google search results and stumbled upon a DMCA takedown notice (pictured below).

What is it exactly, and what does it mean? “DMCA” stands for “Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” and a DMCA takedown notice is a notification to a website or search engine that they are either linking to or hosting material that infringes on a copyright.

 According to The Verge, Google received over 75,000 DMCA-related takedown requests in February 2016. In most cases these takedown requests are legitimate, often filed by music artists and movie studios. But unfortunately there are people and businesses out there exploiting the DMCA system as well.

 Internet watchdogs, WebActivism, have identified over 5,000 fake DMCA reports filed with Google by shady lawyers and online reputation management firms, using it as a way to rid internet of evidence of past bad behavior.

 This new “strategy” involves the creation of phony news websites which claim to hold the copyright to the negative content being hosted by the legitimate news website. With so many DMCA reports filed daily, it’s impossible for Google to catch all of these fake requests.

 My company, Status Labs, strongly condemns any reputation management or law firms using this scheme to remove information from the internet. This increasingly popular practice is not only dishonest, but also illegal. Any credible reputation management or law firm will avoid this practice like the plague.

Good reputation management firms work with clients to change behavior and communicate these changes to stakeholders via content creation, earned media coverage and digital marketing. Sending fake DMCA requests ultimately leads to negative consequences for clients; an outcome any reputable reputation management firm wishes to avoid.

As a reputation management firm that prides itself on integrity, we’re glad internet watchdogs are bringing this shameful practice to light.

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