takedown request

What is a takedown request?

A takedown request, also called a DMCA takedown or a notice and take down request, is a procedure for asking an internet service provider (ISP) or search engine to remove or disable access to illegal, irrelevant or outdated information.

Takedown requests are often issued for website content that has been plagiarized. Under the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), an ISP must respond if a copyright owner notifies the provider that the owner's copyright has been infringed upon.

How does a takedown request work?

For example, in June 2014 the Motion Picture Association of America asked Google to remove a Reddit page from its search results because the page encouraged users to post links to pirated movies that infringed on the MPAA's copyrights.

An image of the copyright symbol
The copyright symbol

Takedown requests may also be made for content that is outdated and no longer relevant. In May 2014, the European Court of Justice ruled that under European law, search engines are data controllers, so they must consider all takedown requests for inaccurate or outdated information.

Challenges of takedown requests

The challenge for ISPs, search engines and other data controllers is to create a process that allows them to evaluate the validity of each takedown request individually without the requests becoming a bottleneck.

Another major concern is that takedown requests will conflict with the open nature of the web and the free flow of information. The fear is that fraudulent takedown requests may result in the unlawful and unethical censorship of factual, legally published information simply because an individual or group finds it objectionable.

Google recommends that the first step for removing illegal, irrelevant or outdated information from a website should be to contact the website serving the content in question and request a takedown. If this doesn't work, a formal takedown request can be made to Google, as well as every other search engine, asking them to remove any links from search results to the illegal, irrelevant or outdated information.

Takedown requests can be made by mail, email or by filling out a form on the service provider's website. 

Editor's note: This article was written by Laura Aberle in 2014. TechTarget editors revised it in 2023 to improve the reader experience.

This was last updated in February 2023

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