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Crazed Microsoft robot accuses BBC kids' channel of Win8 piracy

DMCA autocannon tries to blast HuffPo, CNN off Google

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Microsoft falsely branded BBC CBeebies, CNN.com and other websites as Windows 8 piracy haunts - and ordered Google to remove them from search results.

Pages belonging to the Beeb's children’s telly service CBeebies, film reviews site Rottentomatoes and US cinema chain AMC Theaters - as well as web articles by the BBC's technology news department, CNN and The Huffington Post - were among 66 URLs Microsoft wanted to block. The Windows 8 giant wielded the US's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to censor the search results.

Some of the targeted pages, such as the BBC's, remain in Google's results as the search giant has whitelisted trusted domains against automatic take-downs - however the others weren't as fortunate.

The take-down request appears to have been issued by mistake and the URLs generated by software operating on behalf by Microsoft. The copyright-infringement-hunting bot coughed up roughly 800 URLs on 27 July, a list of which has just been made public on the law-watching website Chillingeffects.

A number of websites caught in the erratic software's sights included torrent file-sharing hangouts. But Microsoft's bot also accused various innocent websites of pirating copies of Office, Xbox 360 and Visual Studio as well as a beta version of Windows 8.

The number of take-down requests Google is reported to have received has mushroomed in 2012: in August the search giant was asked to drop 1.5 million URLs from its results each week compared to 131,577 in the same month last year.

Censorship requests come from governments, interest groups and individuals; under the DMCA, copyright holders can demand the removal of links to sites that infringe copyright. Famously, Viacom sued YouTube owner Google in 2007 for hosting its videos - and the lawsuit was stalled when Google removed the offending footage, but was reignited when a US appeals court sent the case back to the lower court after siding with Viacom and agreeing that YouTube had turned a blind eye to the infringing material in the first place. ®

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