Steviebone

Fighting Bogus DMCA complaint in Google

by @Steviebone (10), 1 year ago

I manage a website that hosts primarily public domain legal information like statutes and codes, etc. the site, which contains literally hundreds of thousands of pages has been up for almost 25 years. One part of the site contains a legal thesaurus/dictionary which was created from three different public domain sources published more than 100 years ago. It combines an 1866 version of bouvier legal thesaurus with a 1913 version of Webster's which has been placed in the public domain long ago.

A few days ago I received a DMCA complaint in my Google search console claiming that the page with the definition of the word "maiden" was a copyright violation. Within a few days all of my Google referral traffic has been killed and all of my search results for all of my pages are gone from the Google search results. This is over a single page.

I filed a counterclaim with Google immediately. Google responded saying that they had forwarded my counterclaim and that they had 10 days to file suit. If complainant does not take legal action Google says they will restore the page to the search results.

It took a few days but the complaint finally appeared in the lumen database. This complaint was filed by a South Korean Corporation which produces cartoons. I'm not sure whether to think this was a deliberate attempt at sabotage of my domain or a negligent auto-bot looking for material that might infringe upon one of their cartoons.

There is no way that the information presented on the page is a copyright infringement as I know exactly where it came from. And it seems unlikely that a foreign cartoon company would have any real competing interest in the legal definition of a word in a public domain dictionary.

Either way the damage to me is very high in lost revenue and clientele. We are primarily a public service. Has anyone else here this or a similar situation? What happens when the complainant fails to take legal action? Will my traffic returned to normal? I can understand Google banning an entire domain over a DMCA complaint but a more practical approach for the domain that's existed for 25 years might be to just exclude the page in question until someone has had a chance to counter. This seems like it could easily be used nefariously by competitors to damage your place in the Google index ranking arbitrarily.

Anyone have any experience from this perspective?

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