Google is facing a never-ending flood of takedown requests from copyright holders but there's also another problem cropping up. Spammers are now submitting takedown notices as well, in the hopes it will indirectly drive traffic to stores selling dubious and counterfeit products.
Every day copyright holders report millions of infringing links to Google.
Nearly all of these requests are automated and involve little oversight. This leads to the occasional mistake but some bogus takedown notices are sent on purpose.
It appears that spammers have discovered Google’s takedown forms and found a way to submit their own fake notices.
While browsing through the Chilling Effects archive of Google’s DMCA notices we spotted some unusual entries. Instead of trying to remove pages from the Internet, spammers are using Google’s takedown forms to promote their counterfeit software, clothing and other merchandise.
Their goal is not to take anything down but to generate links to their own websites. Below is an example of a typical “comment spam” takedown request of which tens of thousands can be found online.
Besides bodypart “enlargements” there are plugs for medicine, sports jerseys, designer clothing, handbags, sunglasses and even counterfeit copies of Microsoft products.
The spammers target a wide range of Google services including Search, Blogger and Picasa. While Google tends to ignore them, copies of the requests are available in the Chilling Effects archive and through Google’s Transparency Report.
While somewhat of a nuisance, it’s doubtful that the takedown notices will be very effective in driving traffic. Most URLs are not linked and the Chilling Effect site itself is not indexed by Google at all.
Still, the spam overload is not making Google’s job any easier.
The company already invests significant resources in checking the millions of legitimate DMCA requests, and dealing with a spam flood only adds to this already troubling task.