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Beyond the DMCA: How Google Leverages Notice and Takedown at Scale

By Caleb Donaldson

©2017. Published in Landslide, Vol. 10, No. 2, November/December 2017, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

As the Internet continues to grow into every corner of modern life, we face a challenge. More people are making more writing, imagery, and music than ever before, and sharing it more widely. Yet at the same time, these very same digital technologies allow perfect infringing reproductions of copyrighted materials, posing a challenge to many who would try to make a living creating content people love. Online intermediaries such as Google have a role to play. Billions of users rely on us to help them locate information in the ever-growing datasphere. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a 1998 compromise between a desire to foster the growth of the Internet and a need to protect the interests of copyright holders, is a cornerstone of Google’s ability to continue to help make the world's information universally accessible and useful. In so doing, we can also help those who seek to create and share new works with the world. This article lays out the basics of the DMCA’s notice-and-takedown regime, discusses the challenges of doing removals at scale, and explains some of the ways Google uses notice and takedown that go beyond what the law requires to help fight piracy.

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