Revulytics Blog

Seeing Through Google's Transparency Report

May 30, 2012


software piracy skull xrayGoogle recently introduced the Google Transparency Report to shed some light on the “flow of information” related to their tools and services:

“In this report, we disclose the number of requests we receive from governments or copyright owners to remove information from our services, as well as the number of government inquiries we receive for information about users. We hope these steps toward greater transparency will help inform ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of content regulation online.”

When you are in the Software Intelligence business like V.i. Labs is, you always welcome a nice and substantial data set to analyze - especially when it relates to the rights of copyright holders and the approaches they take to stem the tide of piracy and misuse. The data “includes more than 95% of the volume of copyright removal requests that we have received for Search since July 2011.”
It is not surprising to see that Microsoft has the highest number of URLs requested to be removed over this period: 2,573,071 URLs on 23,542 targeted domains (many of the other copyright owners requesting takedowns are media and content owners like NBC Universal, RIAA member companies, Sony Music, etc.).

In a November 6, 2010 article in the New York Times, Microsoft's Peter Anaman noted that Microsoft was “removing 800,000 links a month.”

Through an artificial intelligence system, Microsoft scans the Web for suspicious, popular links and then sends takedown requests to Web service providers, providing evidence of questionable activity. “The Web sites look professional,” he says. “And some of them even offer customer support through call centers in India.”

The counterfeiters, however, have automated systems that replace links that Microsoft deep-sixes. So the company has turned up the dial on its link-removal machine. (emphasis added)

While it is valuable to have the data from the Google Transparency Report to have a better sense of scope, it also underscores what we have always said (and what Microsoft “turning up the dial” on its link-removal machine validates): playing the link removal/takedown game is like playing “whac-a-mole” - take one link down and more pop up. It is a battle to reduce the supply of pirated software in the decentralized and virtually unlimited channels made possible by high speed Internet connections.

Instead, today’s leading companies in the software industry are using software tracking to stop piracy, protect their paying customers, boost revenue, and increase shareholder value.

Balanced with licensing and legal action, leaders in the software industry are deploying the proven strategy of Software Intelligence to protect their applications. By tracking the use of their software, they are giving their software compliance teams actionable intelligence on exactly how their software is being used – and by which companies – to boost top line revenue as much as 10 percent, without sacrificing their paying customers’ user experience.

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Michael Goff

Post written by Michael Goff

Marketing Director at Revulytics
Michael is Marketing Director at Revulytics where he is responsible for corporate marketing, content, and social media. He has helped to educate the industry on the benefits of software usage analytics for compliance and product management through the company's blog and contributed articles in trade publications. Michael was previously a marketing programs manager at The MathWorks and principal at Goff Communications. Michael earned a J.D. from Boston University School of Law and a B.A. from Colgate University.