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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Jul 16, 2013

HBO sent formal request to remove VLC from popular search engine Google on the grounds of copyright infringement. VLC is a free to download and open source cross-platform multimedia player commonly used to play pirated video files.

HBO currently holds the record for the most pirated show on television, Game of Thrones, and is searching for any strategy to curb its piracy issue altogether. Yet HBO’s decision to send a DMCA takedown notice to Google over VLC’s media player is being criticized by many sources as inappropriate.

Google receives hundreds if not thousands of copyright infringement notices every day, making the process of filtering offending files and sites from their search index a complex issue. For the sake of perspective, Google received 14,855,269 URLs from copyright holders to consider banning.

As you might imagine, there’s a large margin for error when considering millions of copyright infringement cases. Many copyright holders use automated programs to search for offending sites, passing off perfectly legal URLs to Google in many circumstances. Google monitors the list of DCMA requests closely but cannot resolve the underlying issue entirely.

It is unclear how or why VLC media player made HBO’s recent DCMA list as the free software has nothing to do with piracy directly. It is entirely possible HBO accidentally referred to VLC in their report – previous takedown notices have included their own domain in the past.

Some digital insiders find the developments troubling, considering the reports to be dubious. While these random mistakes often have no bearing on a site’s reputation, Google does automatically rank down certain sites that receive multiple DMCA requests.

Erroneous copy infringement cases ultimately serve to dilute the effectiveness of any filter, pointing to negligence on behalf of copyright holders.