Google is receiving one million takedown notices per day. Not for ‘right to be forgotten’ but for copyright infringement.
Online copyright infringement is a rapidly growing problem. With the growth of the internet comes the increase in sharing of images, videos, music and written content. It also coincides with the growth in copyright infringement, use of other people’s designs, using photographs for your business or posting on your site without payment or permission.
One week ago, Google reported that it had received eight million search removal requests in one week from copyright owners and reporting organisations for URLs that give access to material that allegedly infringes copyright. Google posts a Transparency Report each week and you can see from the statistics in the graph that the number of removal requests has increased from 2012 to 2014 by more than 200% per year. The number of URL removal requests is only expected to continue to increase.
So what is Australia doing about it?
Australia is now finally taking action and starting to consider coming into line with some of the other countries that are already trying to tackle this growing problem.
The Attorney General has released a public consultation paper on Online Copyright Infringement which is calling for submissions from interested parties and organisations on how to combat this growing problem. This paper suggests important amendments to the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) that may potentially have a significant legal impact for ISPs and online content providers. Submissions for comment and consideration on this paper were due by September 1, 2014.
The focus for the changes in the law mainly relate to the responsibility and liability of ISPs, including considering what constitutes ‘reasonable steps’ for an ISP to take to prevent any online copyright infringement. There is also the proposal for implementing notification mechanisms similar to the US, UK and NZ which focus on educating users and penalising repeat infringers.
The other main issue being proposed is the ability of copyright holders to apply for injunctive relief to be able to block internet websites that operate outside of Australia where the main purpose of the website is copyright infringement.
This approach and the short time frame given for comments and alternative suggestions to combat the growing infringement trend means that Australia is now finally taking copyright infringement more seriously and moving more rapidly to have measures in place to deal with the infringements. But whether it will actually be enough to slow or stop this growing problem remains to be seen.
Who will be held responsible?
The most interesting and important outcome will be who will be responsible. Will it be the publishers or the “pipes”? Where the responsibility lays for ensuring there are no copyright breaches and taking down any content will shortly be determined. The Australian government is already asking for submissions on this and provided a very short response timeframe, meaning they will soon be deciding who is responsible in Australia.
With the ‘Right to be Forgotten’, the European judiciary is putting the onus on Google and other search engines to address and take responsibility for the issue. It will be interesting to see where Australia goes with both issues.