Fighting the fakers: A guide to dealing with bogus copyright complaints on Google


Frivolous defamation cases aren’t the only tools that powerful people use to silence investigative journalism. Reporters around the world, including those at OCCRP and in its network, also face bogus accusations of copyright infringement aimed at getting hard-hitting stories taken down or de-indexed by search engines like Google.

Since these platforms are predominantly based in the U.S., the complaints are typically made under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which requires online service providers and platforms to react immediately to reports or violations. Big Tech companies rarely have systems in place to assess the merit of each report. Instead, all bad actors need to do is clone a story, backdate it, then demand the real thing be taken down.

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