Hollywood Censors TPB DocumentaryWithin the past few months, a number of Hollywood movie studios have asked Google to take down links to the absolutely free The Pirate Bay documentary “Away From Keyboard”. The director of the documentary, Simon Klose, has contacted Google to get the links back online, but unsuccessfully – the movie studios keep submitting new DMCA requests to take down the documentary.
The story follows The Pirate Bay founders during their trial in the native country. Of course, the movie can be legally downloaded for free everywhere in order to reach the broadest audience possible. The problem is that a number of movie studios decided to obstruct this goal by sending DMCA notices to the search giant and asking it to take down the links to the film. The director was shocked to find out about the unwarranted filtering and was even going to sue the film studios. However, the lawyers explained that such efforts would be futile unless he could prove subjective intent and bad faith. Instead, Klose contacted Google with a hope to get the censored links put back up. However, a few months and several reminders later, there is still no reply.
It seems that Google is more interested in helping the entertainment industry to censor the Internet than assisting independent content creators to correct DMCA takedown abuses. Although there is a chance that the automated takedown request affecting The Pirate Bay’s documentary was not intentional, this certainly was not an isolated incident. Indeed, after the director’s initial report in May rights owners have sent in a number of new takedown requests for “Away From Keyboard”.
Simon Klose is not happy with the unwarranted censorship that actually hurts his business model. This is why he urges the search engine to also protect content creators who gladly give away their work for free. He claims it is bizarre to be punished for experimenting with distribution models by the content industry which is doing so little for the moviemakers it claims to protect.
Of course, it is impossible to expect the search engine to catch all errors made by rights owners (which it still does for Microsoft who recently wanted to censor itself though), the TPB’s problem brought up two important issues: first of all, it is difficult to check whether a link has been removed from Google search. Secondly, it is unclear how 3rd parties are able to send counter-notices in order to reinstate material on sites that they don’t own.