On June 30th, the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) group listed a series of pages that it wanted removed from Google Search. Most of the links were understandable: they offered free downloads of albums by Universal Music Group artists like Drake and Maroon 5. But three of the requests pointed instead to reviews of Drake's album Take Care, one by The A.V. Club and one by About.com writer Henry Adaso. While the former still comes up in Google's listings, the latter is noted as removed after a DMCA complaint, and Adaso is wondering why.
Adaso alleges that the comments on both his 50-word article and that of The A.V. Club contain links to an extremely negative review, speculating that Universal was trying to scrub mentions of it from the web. But we couldn't find any reference to BPI trying to get that review itself taken down, and it's more likely this was an accident than a conspiracy. In fact, a quick search revealed a total of ten A.V. Club reviews had been flagged for removal, all but one from June 30th, along with several more from About.com. Reviews ran the gamut from Adele to "art-country orchestra symphonette" Lambchop, and most got mediocre or positive scores.
So what happened? At least in the case of The A.V. Club and probably About.com, it looks like whoever manages BPI's takedown requests listed them for a day, then never asked for them to be removed again, making us think this was a one-time mistake. No matter what the cause, though, it doesn't reflect well on BPI or Universal, who clearly didn't look through their requests very closely. It also casts at least a little doubt on Google's plan to downrank sites that get too many takedown requests. While big names like The A.V. Club might be able to monitor their search results and reverse the takedowns, smaller sites or individuals may not realize the traffic they're missing out on until months later, if at all.