Since past 10 months, Webactivism has investigated and exposed how certain rogue Reputation agencies used fake DMCAs and fake Court orders to try and convince Google to remove negative URLs for their clients. For this practice, these services charged their clients above of $5000 per URL. That’s a lot of money, frankly, and it was worth the risk for these fly-by-night services.
Not so much for the clients, however. In spite of Webactivism exposing these crooks, and others, namely techdirt, Pissedconsumer and their lawyers, and experts like Eugene Volokh and Paul Levy forcing this issue, it was impossible to undo the damage done by these unethical agencies. Sure, suing a few of them might deter them in the future, but what about the hundreds of URLs already removed by Google based on these frivolous grounds ? Webactivism monitors and exposes recent and upcoming DMCA and Court Order violations, but the past deeds had to be undone.
For long, we suggested that websites such as Ripoff Report changed it’s URL structure. A minor change in the URL would render the Google removal as worthless, because the updated URL is not being blocked on search pages. It is tricky, but with a little tweak done within Google’s own guidelines, websites can survive the change.
Ripoff Report did exactly what we hoped it would. The new URL structure replaces ‘ /r ‘ to ‘ /report ‘ in all its links. That’s all it took. All the hundreds of URLs that were illegally removed, are back online.
So how will it effect the legitimate removals ? The parties that have a legal cause for removal can simply contact Google for re-removal using the same method as before. Only this time, Google has become savvy enough to verify each request diligently.
What about the fake DMCAs and fake Court Orders? Well, it sucks to have used an illegal method, doesn’t it ?