Having broadcasters and rights holders ask Google (and others) to take down links to sites that let users illegally access their content isn't unheard of. Sadly it's also not unheard of for said rights holders to overstep their bounds, and demand innocent links be removed as well - sometimes it's an accident and other it's not.
That happened again recently, because someone asked Google to remove links to the Stranger Things subreddit on behalf of Netflix.
Like most rights holders, Netflix employs a variety of different methods to try and combat piracy, methods that involve its own anti-piracy team as well as recruitment of third parties. The point is to remove unauthorised versions of Netflix's content from the net, including links found in Google search. Most of those requests are perfectly fine, linking to dodgy sites that stream content illegally, but sometimes a few not-so-dodgy ones slips through the cracks.
A recent takedown notice, spotted by TorrentFreak, also includes some links to news sites The Wrap and The Express, as well as a link to the Stranger Things subreddit which is decidedly not pirate content.
The Express's headline is an obvious SEO clickbait situation, as the Express is wont to do, titled “Stranger Things season 2 streaming – How to watch Stranger Things online for FREE in UK.” The headline certainly gives off the wrong impression, which is why it might have been included - even though there's nothing illegal or infringing inside the link.
But the other two should be fine. While it's possible these requests were accidental, IP Arrow (the company listed as filing the request) claims that this list has nothing to do with them - indicating that someone else filed it fraudulently. While Google rightly didn't takedown the non-dodgy links, it has been asked to look into the matter.
We get it. Shit happens, mistakes are made, and usually they get spotted and fixed pretty quickly. But this is a whole new level. DMCA takedowns have faced criticisms in the past, but if people are able to file fraudulent claims (for whatever reason) then things get extra complicated. And extra scaring for people who host sites that might get targeted. [Google via TorrentFreak]