How DMCA Notices May Facilitate Software Piracy
What would a software company like Microsoft do if they discover underground websites that are distributing illegal copies of Windows on the Internet?
Microsoft will send Cease and Desist letters to the ISPs / hosts asking them to remove the copyrighted material from their servers. They will also send DMCA complaints to Google and other search engines to get these pages removed from search results.
If Google decides to remove certain web pages from their search results in response to a DMCA takedown notice, they will always forward a copy of that legal notice to the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse for publishing on ChillingEffects.org, a public website.
In other words, the original DMCA complaint from Microsoft to Google against a third website can now be read by anyone on the Internet. Chilling Effects is like a central database of cease and desist notices and it has gained prominence as Internet companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter archive all the copyright complaints they receive to Chilling Effects.
And that’s where the problem lies.
A DMCA takedown notice, like the Microsoft example above, will always include complete URLs of web pages that either host or link to illegal software.
The job of a search engine is over after it is done removing these pages from its search results but the takedown notice will stay on the Chilling Effects public website forever making it easier for others to discover pirated software.
To get an idea, look at the body of this DMCA complaint from Microsoft to Google.
The Redmond lawyers have not only listed hundreds of underground websites in the complaint letter (unfortunately, most of these infringing sites are still online) but they have also mentioned detailed search queries that can be used to easily find pirated software on Google.
A letter that was written to curb software piracy may be facilitating the same activity as all the hard work of finding illegal software has already been done by the lawyers. One can easily find several thousand such letters on the Chilling Effects website.
Google Developer Expert, Google Cloud Champion
Amit Agarwal is a Google Developer Expert in Google Workspace and Google Apps Script. He holds an engineering degree in Computer Science (I.I.T.) and is the first professional blogger in India.