BBC and others targeted by Microsoft copyright takedown request

image captionThe microsite for CBeebies was among those targeted by the automated request

Microsoft wrongly made automated requests for pages on the BBC website to be removed from Google due to "copyright infringements".

The system also mistakenly requested the removal of content created by CNN, Wikipedia and the US government.

The sites were wrongly identified by software which crawls the web for attempts to illegally share Microsoft content.

Google has put the BBC on an approved list, so its pages were not affected.

Other sites targeted - which included Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post and Techcrunch - were similarly unaffected.

However, other sites like AMC Theatres and RealClearPolitics, who were also wrongly accused, had pages taken off Google search results.

Microsoft has not yet commented on the issue.

Number 45

Copyright holders are able to make requests to Google - or other sites - to take down content under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). A successful request means the content does not appear in search rankings.

The targeted web addresses appeared on a list published by Chilling Effects, a website which logs legal complaints about online activity. It is backed by several academic institutes such as Harvard and Stanford, as well as campaign group the Electronic Frontiers Foundation.

The majority of sites listed were from websites that typically index a large number of illegal files.

The request, sent in July, contained hundreds of addresses, and appeared to pinpoint articles and pages containing the number 45.

For example, a BBC page following Day 45 of the Olympic Torch Relay was on the takedown list, as was a Wikipedia article on Caesar's Civil War, which ended in 45BC.

A leading technology blog covering BitTorrent and copyright issues has called for companies to be punished for wrongful takedown notices.

"Microsoft and other rightsholders are censoring large parts of the internet, often completely unfounded, and there is absolutely no-one to hold them responsible," TorrentFreak wrote.

"Websites can't possibly verify every DMCA claim and the problem will only increase as more takedown notices are sent week after week."

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