It appears everybody is so hopped up for the coming of Windows 8 that they can't wait for the official release and are splattering illegal copies all over the Interwebs.
At least, that's what you might think if you look at the DMCA takedown notices Microsoft has recently filed to Google. As TorrentFreak reports, over the last year Microsoft has sent nearly 5 million takedown requests to Google claiming that hundreds of sites are illegally distributing its software. Among the alleged miscreants: BBC, CNN, the Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Wikipedia, and the U.S. government.
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According to Microsoft, you can find copies of Windows 8 on a BBC guide to TV programming, an AMC Theaters page listing show times for "The Dark Knight Rises," a Washington Post article about Spain's financial meltdown, an EPA page on coke oven emissions, a page on RealClearPolitics on Ohio's presidential polls, and a RottenTomatoes review of the movie "Brake." (Critical consensus? It sucked.)
All of that is, of course, dead wrong. You can't find copies of Windows 8 at any of these places; this is an algorithm gone wacko. As TorrentFreak's Ernesto explains:
... many rights holders use completely automated systems to inform Google and other sites of infringements....Claiming to prevent the unauthorized distribution of Windows 8 Beta the software company listed 65 "infringing" web pages. However, nearly half of the URLs that Google was asked to remove from its search results have nothing to do with Windows 8.... Judging from the page titles and content the websites in question were targeted because they reference the number "45."
Because as we all know, if you add 4 and 5 together you get 9, which is really an upside-down 6. Triple that and -- voila! -- you get the mark of the beast.
It gets even sillier: turns out that on several occasions Microsoft has even targeted itself, asking Google to censor its own search engine, Bing.
That wasn't really Microsoft's doing, though; it is most likely the work of the folks Microsoft hired as copyright rent-a-cops, an obscure firm run by a former Microsoft employee called Marketly LLC. Marketly files more than 40,000 DMCA takedown requests with Google every week on Microsoft's behalf.
While some sites (like Wikipedia and the BBC) are whitelisted by Google and immune from automatic shutdown, others aren't so lucky. TorrentFreak reports that the sites AMC Theaters and RealClearPolitics were inaccessible for a while before they got things sorted out.
This points out one of the more egregious flaws in the DMCA: the Safe Harbor provision that gives service providers like Google a free pass if they comply with takedown requests without any fuss.