Microsoft Screw-up Asks Google to Censor BBC, CNN, Wikipedia, the US Government and More

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The upcoming launch of Windows 8 is an important step for Microsoft, a company trying desperately to bridge the gap between mobile devices and traditional notebook and desktop computers. The software has been in developer previews, then consumer previews, and then a public beta, all in an attempt to iron out bugs and familiarize users with the new OS’ wildly different operating paradiagm.

Even though the software won’t be officially released for another couple of weeks yet, you can go onto Microsoft’s website and download a free copy of Windows 8 to try out for yourself on a trial basis. Go on, we’ll wait.

Since the software has been easily downloadable for months now, less savory sorts all across the Internet have been rehosting it for their own users to download, away from Microsoft’s sign-up process and in some cases, with the timed limitations removed.

In response, Microsoft has been scouring the web with its software robots, looking for these illicit downloads and sending DMCA notifications to entities such as Google, requesting that these sites be removed from search results for various terms. We won’t get into the effects and results of the DMCA here (check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website for more information), but it is definitely true that the law has changed the way companies go about, and get away with, getting content removed that infringes upon their various intellectual property rights…and some that doesn’t.

It’s the latter that caused the ruckus this past week, as Microsoft’s automated DMCA takedown systems pestered Google to remove a huge list of sites (see below) for supporting illegal Windows 8 downloads. The clincher, of course, was that they weren’t doing anything of the sort.

Incorrect DMCA Takedown List Microsoft

Fortunately, Google has some measures in place to combat improper DMCA usage – thanks to some sort of whitelist, sites like BBC and CNN weren’t taken down. That mysterious protection doesn’t apply to everyone, however, and it took more than a couple of days for sites like the one belonging to AMC Theatres to come back up in results.

For many companies, losing their Google ranking can result in very real financial losses – in this instance, who could they turn to to recoup those losses? Microsoft? Google? The Federal Government for enacting the DMCA in the first place? It’s difficult to say, but if nothing else these exercises show that combating piracy is not a simple endeavor.

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