Microsoft believes a Ghacks page is infringing on its copyright

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 18, 2012
Updated • Jan 29, 2015

I'm always a bit nervous when I receive emails from Google, as it is more often than not a bad thing if it is webmaster related. I received a notice of DMCA removal from Google Search this morning about this page on Ghacks. The company sending the DMCA? Microsoft.

It is a tag page that is listing two articles with no outgoing links and four lines of text each. There is no image, download link or anything else that Microsoft may have identified as infringing on the company's copyright.

When I try to open the notice on Chilling Effects I get the information that the notice is currently not available and that it will be posted after it has been processed which may take weeks.

Google has been notified, according to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), that some of your materials allegedly infringe upon the copyrights of others. The URLs of the allegedly infringing materials may be found at the end of this message. The notice that we received, with any personally identifying information removed, may be found at

I'm no expert on US copyright law, but I can't really see anything wrong with this page. My best guess would be that Microsoft is - once again - sending out notices in bulk and that the page has mistakenly identified by the company.

While it is likely that the company is going after sites that post links pointing to downloads of the recently released Windows 8 RTM build, it feels like a huge oversight if sites get dragged into this that have nothing to do with this kind of behavior.


I do have to take this serious though as Google a few days ago announced that copyright removal notices have been added as a ranking signal to the search engine's ranking algorithm.

Before I file a counter-claim, I'd like to ask you to take a look at the page to let me know your opinion on the removal request. Thanks in advanced for your help.


Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Usman said on October 7, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    The effects of DMCA madness from Microsoft can be heard from bigger sites now :-D

  2. Eran said on August 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm
    Reply received a similar DMCA notice, but for hosting a Windows 8 RTM screenshots gallery.

  3. CrunchBang said on August 22, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    This is plain ridiculous. If anything you’ve been doing a big favor to Microsoft over the years by writing about them (OS and related programs). I’m getting sick of them and I’m seriously planing to switch to Apple, although it’s just a lesser evil and more expensive.

    How about big change, focusing on Apple community with some news from Linux world as well? I know this sounds like taking revenge but it’s not. If anything Microsoft should pay you for promoting them for all this years.

    Regarding Google, it’s becoming scary what power they’ve gained over the years. My problem is that all of my mail accounts are hooked to Google and it’s a lot of work ditching it now but I would love to do it and I will eventually, it just take time.

    Good luck!

  4. Usman said on August 22, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Same thing happened to me. It was a post from 2011 but there was no link added to the post. And even the post was not talking about Windows 8, it was termed as violating Microsoft copyright. I just removed the page because it was not generating any traffic for a long time.

  5. Ken Saunders said on August 19, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    I read that you answered the complaint but are you aware that Chilling Effects was created to help individuals?
    “Chilling Effects is a collaborative archive created by Wendy Seltzer and founded along with several law school clinics and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to protect lawful online activity from legal threats.”

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation does awesome things for individuals rights.
    Anyway, I’m not sure if you looked into any of the pages there.
    “If you have received a cease and desist notice:”

    I have a friend more knowledgeable on these matter than I am. Perhaps he can chime in.

  6. scyllabub said on August 19, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Google is a deaf monster. Here is another example of our powerlessness.

    On YouTube they allow music publishers/distributors to win copyright claims where there is no relation whatsoever between the video and the subject of the claim and where the video contains no music whatsoever, only environmental sounds from the natural world recorded from a live, uncopyrighted, stream.

    They sweep with a very broad brush and make it impossible for a “little man” to counter erroneous claims made by lazy rights owners who don’t bother to check disputes, or fraudulent claims made to gain free advertising space.

  7. anony said on August 19, 2012 at 8:08 am

    You do that microsoft.

    Take down any and all things with keyword “Windows” while you’re at it.

  8. Lolo said on August 19, 2012 at 4:14 am

    Odd that they chose those 2 posts. I do remember a post where commenter “ilev” posted the names of leaked RTM Windows 8 builds by a scene group but there weren’t any links.

    Please keep us posted on the progress of this if you can (legally it may be better to keep this to yourself until you know what you’re facing). Know that I, and many of your readers, hope this works out.

    It seems you’re struggling to convince yourself that Windows 8 is worth installing. You could take action in another way, cancel your Technet subscription, boycott M$, get rid of Mike Halsey and start posting about alternative platforms (if you’re up to it). Just a thought….

    I recently installed XBMCbuntu with TVHeadend. I can say the eminent death of Windows Media Center isn’t the end of the world anymore! I will admit it took me the better part of a weekend to setup but it’s amazing! I’ve been tweaking it over the last month and I couldn’t be happier.

  9. jasray said on August 19, 2012 at 3:29 am

    2) identification of the copyrighted works claimed to have been infringed; 3) identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed . . .

    Neither of the above requirements are met, and if there wasn’t a signature of a “real’ person, your site is fine.

  10. uncle good advise said on August 19, 2012 at 12:21 am
  11. Wayfarer said on August 19, 2012 at 12:16 am

    The main problem in matters like these isn’t IMHO Microsoft or even predatory lawyers. It’s a US civil litigation system that’s unfit for purpose and a disgrace to a civilised country.

    I’d offer the UK system as an example – but it’s even worse. Money talks.

  12. Stonecold said on August 18, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Oh wow, that’s horrible! I can’t believe Google would cave into such a thing… I’ve always thought of Google as one of the most pro-freedom sites out there, especially considering most sites that large would have caved in long ago, but I guess Google fell into that too. How did they not see the potential for abuse here!? All a company’d have to do is send bogus DMCA complaints to their competitor to lower their ranking.

    IMO Google shouldn’t censor ANYTHING WHATSOEVER. If is a fake or scam page, just say so (it already does). If it’s an illegal page, DON’T DROP ITS RANKING IF IT RIGHTFULLY DESERVED THAT RANK BECAUSE OF POPULARITY!

    This pisses me off so much. Now even YOU are being directly hurt by M$’s fucking retarded troll-bots. I’d say go bring this to a lawyer. Even if it doesn’t matter to your site, don’t let them get away with this!

  13. broader perspective said on August 18, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    it is only a grain of sand in a landslide called decentralize censorship
    = just like in Soviet Union -not only special clerks,
    but in every media staff , and every author also should auto-censorship maintain –
    they want enforce owner responsibility for all users/quests comments – gradually more severe restrictions, straffs/mandates/tickets=
    that’s why they compare internet traffic to road traffic -similliarily will be regulated – with Internet Driving License (Kaspersky called for it openly),
    internet must look like official TV , packets of bored, correct, and pro-, debilitating contents.And paid .
    Last head of STASI was paid millions in USA for being consultant in all those things– ordnung musst sein (new world order)
    on this stage and this case aim is to scare websites owners -so they apply auto-censorship upon themselves and upon users.

    Everyone should know that talk is allowed only on trendy things
    served in TV & in the same manner.

  14. Nebulus said on August 18, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Unfortunately this kind of action taken by Google to lower the rank of a site when it receives DMCA takedown notifications can be easily abused by companies, because all it takes to lower the Google rank of a target site will be to send it fake DMCA notifications. I’m not saying that it is the case here, just that in the future we will see this kind of pressure from big companies more and more. Sad…

  15. SuilAmhain said on August 18, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    I suspect it is the SEF URL and the also possibly the Page Title.

    Try an illicit search on a torrent site :-/

    This is unfortunate but does however confirm that you are not blogging on behalf of Microsoft or Google…. ;-)

    Hopefully you can get it rectified quickly and this can be another example of DMCA mistaken identity. Depending on your hosting provider it may be a good idea to not “dilly dally” with getting this fixed.

    Good Luck with it.

  16. Q said on August 18, 2012 at 8:38 pm


    It seems like the claim made was false or frivolous in an . In United States oftentimes companies use “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation” lawsuits (commonly called “SLAPP suits”) that are designed to limit speech and press of information that the claiming party does not want published or stated. This can also apply to secure against the possibility of future communications (where the sued party will censor valid content to reduce the likelihood of being hit with another costly SLAPP suit).

    Though the false or frivolous DCMA violation notice is not a SLAPP suit, the concept behind its use is quite like that of the SLAPP suit. The DCMA notice, however, is less costly to use than the SLAPP suit.

    I do not have much more time at the moment; however, I did do a very quick search on Google regarding your issue. I have found a short article regarding what to do when you receive false or frivolous DCMA copyright infringement claims. The article is located:

    I do recommend you consult a decent lawyer regarding this and the DCMA allegations in general; even if you do not want to file suit, it is important to get a good lawyers opinion as to how to to deal with these issues.

  17. mikmock said on August 18, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    After reading all the previous post I can’t think of anything more to add except you certainly have my 100% support.

    You run a great site with tons of information and that includes M$ articles that only help people to use M$ products. If they sent you anything…it should be a big Thank You.
    They just don’t get it

    Thank you Ghacks

  18. DrJBHL said on August 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Absurd. Yet another misstep by MS and Google, although I can’t see how you mentioned (in less detail) what other sites mentioned as well. *File under tags: Absurd, nonsense, print on very soft paper.

  19. Krishna said on August 18, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I did not find anything to be of objectionable value to MS in the articles. MS would do better to check the activities of their own staff who are the source of Windows and MSO. I know this as MSO ‘2007 and 2010’ staff copies are the most pirated.

    Support to you Martin.

  20. Michelle said on August 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    What copy copyright violation? It was about a leaked story, weather true or false, journalist have been doing that forever.

    Apparently the DMCA is the new legal way to stop free speech, just make a threat under the DMCA because fighting it is to costly and time consuming for most.

    Googles new DMCA listing system, could that be more about revenues for Google so long as they pass along bogus DMCA complaints from other companies. Just so these companies can get top listings in Google and stomp there competition at the same time. Doesn’t Google bare any responsibility if not legally at least morally in confirming that these complaints have some volatility to them before passing them along, because not doing so is just helping the bully?

    And what dose this mean for those that need search engines to research things on the net, dose that mean you have to go through 20 pages of junk just to get past the WebMd/Fda’s corporate line, and then get to other sources of information. And when information is kept from or dumb down for the people then the corporations have won and the people will be taken advantage of when the end game of the two parties have their own and different goals, witch is all to often these days.

  21. jmjsquared said on August 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Martin, as a businessman, I know you don’t want to take the time or want to spend the large sums of money necessary to “Sue them for millions” or to “…take this case to court..” Only someone who has never run their own business nor actually taken a case to court would give that inflamatory advice.

    I’m sure things eventually will resolve favorably for you. There are some out-of-the-box things you can do to speed things up, too.

    I will take the liberty of privately offering some suggestions. In the meanwhile, Keep your chin up. *Illegitimi non carborundum*


    1. DanTe said on August 18, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      The whole concept of a Small Claims court is so that the small guys can sue and NOT have to spend time and money. Just file the paperwork with the Clerk. And a Class Action in the US usually means a whole group of victims banning together with a lawyer who only gets paid if they win the case. No time nor money spent.

      But I’m Sure As a Legal Practitioner, you may offer a lot of recommendations. May I ask how much they will be costing?

      1. DanTe said on August 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm

        I was not suggesting that Martin fly to the States. Especially since his jurisdiction would be in Germany. I am merely pointing out what the States have to help the little guys. And maybe Germany would have something similar too. Especially since German courts are similar in structure to the U.S.

        And what flame-war?? I was merely responding to you as you did. You consider that flaming? In which case you owe me an apology for flaming me.

      2. jmjsquared said on August 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm

        @DanTe – Let’s not get into an online, face-fighting flame war. Rather, let’s just offer Martin whatever meaningful support our abilities, knowledge and experience permit because, for example, if Martin were to follow your suggestions:
        — Would he fly to whatever jurisdiction in America to “Just file the paperwork with the Clerk”?
        — In my jurisdiction the amount-of-claim limit is $5,000. He would have spent that on airfare and accommodations + about $25 just to start the Small Claims action.

        See what I’m getting at? It ain’t cheap to fight. Even when you’re right and no matter what venue you choose. And, like I’m suggesting for you and me, DanTe, it’s usually better to save fighting for the very, very last.

        As it stands now, Martin may have to wait weeks/months for the powers-that-be to correct their apparent error. Premature, ill-advised legal action could stretch that to years! In the meanwhile, any chilling effect this Microsoft/Google action is having on this great web resource accrues to Martin Brinkman… not to you, not to me nor to any other back-seat driver.

        Nice meeting you. Ciao.

  22. DanTe said on August 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I don’t know about German courts. But in the States, we have something called Small Claims Court. Where you can file a claim against Microsoft and they better have a high priced lawyer show up to defend themselves or you win the judgement by default. Can only sue for about $2,000. But Microshaft will probably spend about $50,000 in lawyer reps. Or you can get together with a bunch of other site owners and do a Class Action lawsuit and hit Microshaft for million$.

    1. Anonymous said on August 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      Nonsense, DanTe.

      Here in the U.S., Small Claims Courts vary from State-to-State and, FYI, the $2,000 limit has increased to a minimum of $5,000 in all 50 States, and in some the limit is $10,000. And, it takes months for a case to be scheduled and heard, usually with two/three adjournments before it ever gets to a “referee” ( to be heard by a real judge requires an additional motion and further delays.) Microsoft would simply contract an attorney local to the court of filing to represent them in such a tiny, tiny matter.

      A class action can only be started AFTER a petition and motion has been filed and then only with the presiding judge’s granting permission to proceed as a “class”.

      Martin would have to pay an attorney/solicitor to file the petition, pay the courts a filing fee, pay someone to serve the papers on Microsoft, pay to be represented at each of the small-claims appearances, and pay and pay and pay. At the end of all that, if he could not show malice or gross negligence on Microsoft’s part, all he would get is an order requiring them to rescind their takedown notice. No money. No apology. No nothing but a huge stack of expenses and attorneys’ fees!

      It’s fine to emote and curse those bastards for picking on Our Martin. It is quite something else to offer “legal” advice that is w-a-y off base.

      Martin’s best course of action, at this point, is to remain the professional that he is and make his objections through the channels provided. That may not sit well with those (me included) who want to load their guns and hunt down *Big Brother* but, in this real world, it is going to be the most productive course for Martin.

  23. Marlon Orozco Baños said on August 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    So, from now on all of us has to be careful to not look suspicious to a crawler that some big company could program based on his own caprice? That’s a terrible consecuence in defense of something (the copyright) which, in the digital world at least, only benefits to the intermediary. I support your counter-claim, but, there will be more? Anyone could claim against anyone without verify it, and then, even if it results false, there will be no consecuences except the annoyance for the one being claimed? That’s just not right.

  24. thebluejay said on August 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Hey, Google! See what happens when you rely on computers to do your work instead of people with brains? LOL

  25. ComicHippo said on August 18, 2012 at 9:18 am

    What will happen if you don’t remove the articles ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 18, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Nothing. The page has been removed from Google and that is it.

      1. ComicHippo said on August 18, 2012 at 10:30 am

        If it is copyright violation , won’t your hosting provider take action ? . Most of the hosting providers don’t allow stuff on their server that violate copyrights , right ?

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on August 18, 2012 at 10:52 am

        I do not think so, at least not in this particular case. Microsoft seems to use the automatic submission option that Google provides them with to remove pages from Google search. I do not think they have also contacted the hosting company.

  26. CK said on August 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Maybe you should take this case to court, only to bother them (MS) for a while. As they do

    1. Ron said on August 20, 2012 at 1:49 am

      The problem with bringing a lawsuit, at least in the US, is it takes a lot of money. Attorneys are expensive. And they won’t take the case on a contingency basis (no win no fee) unless it’s worth their time in terms of payoff.

  27. CK said on August 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Maybe you should take this case to court, only for bother them (MS) for a while. As they do

    1. ComicHippo said on August 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm

      Ya . Sue them for millions :-D

  28. Bob Vincent said on August 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    New headline: “Microsoft validates leaked roadmap by issuing automated DMCA takedown notices.”

    Or even: “Microsoft partners with Google to blacklist the opposition.”

  29. dw4rf_t0ss said on August 18, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Well I guess this confirms the legitimacy of the roadmap, if that wasn’t already known. I’m sure you could have done fine not knowing though if it meant you could avoid all of this DMCA mess. Why did it take so long to file this anyways?

    Are they so afraid that people will see the big picture, the planned obsolescence complete with dates? Not a lawyer, and I don’t understand why they posted this notice.

    Also, Streisand Effect. I’m not sure I see the big deal here.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 18, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      Again, if they would object the actual articles, they would have included them in the notice. They did not, so it is only the contents of the tag page they complain about.

  30. bastik said on August 18, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Don’t you use Bing’s webmaster tools as well? Did Bing(tm)(r) told you also that you infringe copyright? Does Bing find the article? If their search engine isn’t “aware” of their own DMCA complaints then they do something wrong.

    Microsoft(tm)(r) is far to aggressive in this regard. They use automated systems. That should be forbidden or they should have to pay for every false-alert.

    I hope they get sued for that. They abuse their power. (at least IMO)

    And who the hell should want to pirate Win 8 anyway?

    1. dw4rf_t0ss said on August 18, 2012 at 11:53 am

      Yeah, carpet-bombing everyone with automated requests to see what sticks really should be dealt with harshly. I guess it’s only extortion if you get caught. :|

  31. Paul(us) said on August 18, 2012 at 11:22 am

    I have read again your article and your absolutely right with your counter claim. Not only the tag page but also the article are more than fine. Personally I think its not enough, concerning your future, to counter claim them I would advice you go tor there neck veins, because there its really bleeding.
    This so that in the future there will think twice before doing something so ferry stupid, as they did this time.

  32. Paul said on August 18, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Could it be anything to do with you mentioning Windows 8 and on the same page in your recent posts section you do a review of ‘bittorrent launches onehash’ – the automated crawlers then go windows 8 and some torrent thing on this page, he must be promoting illegal downloads.

  33. Avi said on August 18, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I think it has to do something with the road map you said was leaked. Either way it’s up to you to delete them (If the traffic to that page is gr8, don’t do it) else its just some post with less traffic.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 18, 2012 at 10:13 am

      If they would have objected to the actual articles, they would have included them in the claim. But they only complained about the tag page and its contents.

  34. SubgeniusD said on August 18, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I’m curious if Ed Bott, Mary Jo Foley, or any of the other MSFT- approved blogger/reporters were sent these notices.

    Like if you’re in the club you get white-listed, if you’re not you get spammed with these ominous but meaningless and toothless warnings.

  35. Jeff said on August 18, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Martin, I’m sorry you’ve gotten caught up in this. There’s certainly nothing “infringing” on that page, or (based solely on their names) in any of the links. I’d assume that no human ever read the page, and that you were the victim of a spider finding the terms “leaked” and “windows 8” in close proximity.

    I encourage you to counter-claim, using only 2 or 3 paragraphs to do so. Here’s my suggestion: Attach a copy of the full post, and describe what is in the post as a report about speculation resulting from a leaked “roadmap,” Point out that you became aware of the existence of the document through the the source to which you linked (which no longer has that information at the link address). Conclude by saying that you did not leak the document, encourage anyone to leak similar documents, or provide the means for anyone to access the leaked document. Good luck.

    1. Roman ShaRP said on August 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      > I’d assume that no human ever read the page, and that you were the victim of a spider finding the terms “leaked” and “windows 8″ in close proximity.

      I agree.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on August 18, 2012 at 10:13 am

      Thanks. I have posted a counter-claim.

  36. Yoav said on August 18, 2012 at 9:09 am

    The takedown notice is bullshit – as most of them are. There is nothing wrong with your page, except that it includes the words “Windows 8″ and ‘leak”, which is probably why the morons at M$ marked it as illegal.

    This why copyright law has to change or else only 50 multi-national corporations will be able to post stuff on the internet and the rest of us will be in jail or banished offline for posting information about things that interest us.

    Google has really made a big mistake by including takedown notices in the rankings – basically, this is the end of google as a decent search engine because any corporation can issue thousands of automatic takedown notices and there is almost nothing you can do about it. This will will result in higher rankings for sites that are corporate approved while honest sites – like yours – will gradually slip down.

  37. Steve said on August 18, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Do these articles reference Not Metro?, maybe that’s why lol

  38. Peyo said on August 18, 2012 at 8:58 am

    from now on… Stupid Google, this will be the worst searcher

    1. Morely the IT Guy said on August 19, 2012 at 2:14 am

      Blaming Google is what’s stupid. Try figuring out who violated US Federal law and falsely claimed copyright over Martin’s pages. I’ll help you: It wasn’t Google.

  39. Anonymous said on August 18, 2012 at 8:51 am

    I believe this the effect of the new result ranking policy that Google just rolled out. You should expect to see plenty of them in the future as most if not all of them will be automated. So much for SOPA huh!

    If you don’t do anything, how will that effect your relationship with Google’s services?

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.