Google’s lawsuit filed in the northern district of California cites two men who allegedly used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request to try and remove competitor URLs from the search results.
The lawsuit filed in San Jose, California, on November 13, suggests the defendants “weaponized” the copyright law’s notice-and-takedown process, and used it not for its intended purpose of expeditiously removing infringing content. The defendants wanted to have legitimate competitors’ content removed based on false allegations.
The document describes how two individuals created at least 65 Google accounts to submit thousands of fake DMCA claims aims to remove competing third-party sellers from Google Search results. It took place during the past few years. These were filed against 117, third-party website URLS in the category of printed t-shirts.
The defendants Nguyen Van Duc and Pham Van Thien, the lawsuit claims, have “maliciously and illegally exploited Google’s policies and procedures under the DMCA to sabotage and harm their competitors.”
Both defendants appear to be residents of Vietnam.
Google receives millions of takedown requests targeting more than 600 million URLs. The company claims it has invested “substantial resources over decades” to ensure Google Search remains useful and reliable.
Approximately two billion people use Google Search every month, resulting in billions of searches per day and trillions per year, according to the lawsuit.
As the industry has seen in the recent antitrust trial between Google and the U.S. government, Google generates most of its revenue from Google Search by selling advertising that typically appears in its search engine results.
Third-party sellers that want to advertise products enter into contracts with Google to participate in its Ads program and have the opportunity to place bids for Search Ads to show products and services on relevant Google Search results pages.
Sellers often use Search Ads to attract customers and generate revenue for their businesses. Most of the time those Search Ads contain links to the relevant URLs where the sellers’ products and services are available.
Defendants attempted to hide their identities by providing fake names in all the takedown requests, according to the lawsuit. The defendants under the fake names falsely claimed to represent Amazon, Twitter, and NBC News, plus sports teams such as Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Lakers, San Diego Padres.
They also claimed to represent famous individuals such as Elon Musk, Taylor Swift, LeVar Burton, and Kanye West.
There were other requests under fake names. But in each of the thousands of fraudulent takedown requests the defendants submitted, they did it in good faith and good intentions the third-party content identified infringed. The lawsuit initially reported by TorrentFreak.