Google’s New Contact Page For Enforcing Trademark & Copyright Infringement Court Orders

It’s not easy being Google. (I’m talking about the company itself; it’s easy to be famous, powerful, and wealthy, so I don’t feel sorry for the management and shareholders of Google.) When you are that big, and asked to do that much, it’s inevitable that everyone will have some sort of complaint about you.

Thus far, Google has done an excellent job at avoiding any sort of legal liability for being the primary gatekeeper and mapmaker for the Internet. You can’t hold them liable for trademark infringement when a competitor uses your brand name as an AdWords trigger (though you can hold the competitor liable). You can’t sue Google for copyright infringement for leading people to pirated material, though most everyone else (Napster, Grokster, isoHunt, etc) has been sued for it and lost. Some folks have tried suing Google for erroneous Google Maps directions, but I doubt that will go anywhere, either.

Indeed, the only place where anyone has picked up traction against them is patent infringement, like with Oracle’s suit against Google over Java. But if you’re not holding onto some vague patent relating to social networks, that’s not an option, either. 

Google, though, sometimes tries to be a good internet citizen, as shown by their brand new “Submit a Court Order to Google” page. It’s one thing to get a page pulled off the internet, and quite another to get it removed from the primary way people access it: through Google. Of course, as Google says, "Completing and submitting this form does not guarantee that any action will be taken on your request," but it’s a start.

I wish I could shout hooray for all the individuals out there who have been defamed or had their content stolen, but, truth is, it takes an awful long time in a defamation or copyright / trademark lawsuit before you get anything resembling a court order demanding a webpage on the internet be taken down. "Long time" as in years, not months, certainly not days. Most of the time, you can’t "unring that bell" for defamatory publications, and so they remain live forever, even if you win. Consider the Wolk v. Overlawyered lawsuit; assuming, arguendo, that the blog post is defamatory (the case was dismissed on statute of limitations grounds, not on its merits), it’s still up there on the internet forever. Google is the new permanent record.

Truth is, it’s likely the only beneficiaries of Google’s new streamlined process are major record labels and film companies, the types of companies that sue 40,000 John Doe plaintiffs at once, fail to properly serve any of them, and then rack up temporary restraining orders and default judgments. 

But it’s a start.

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