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Bing shows results that MS asked Google to take down (techdirt.com)
211 points by sendtopms on May 25, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 69 comments

You know this is one of those things that sounds terribly hypocritical but in a massive company can easily be just the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. Its hard for me to see this as anything more then typical large co bureaucracy.

My intuition agrees too, this is just a goof. But it's important to note that this isn't merely hypocrisy. By offering useful search results that Google doesn't, Microsoft makes Bing a more attractive search engine. This process certainly could be abused if MS wanted -- XBox and Windows cracks are clearly desired content.

Or Bing doesn't even fall on Microsoft Entertainment's radar. I would expect the fiefdoms to defend their own turf.

It seems (in this case) that Microsoft makes the best search engine to steal from.. Microsoft. Bravo guys! Well done keep up the good work in Redmond.

"Steal?" You drank the koolaid. The fact that they haven't rectified this in their own search engine should be pretty good evidence that copying and piracy are not, in fact, "theft" and that they don't represent lost sales.

>The fact that they haven't rectified this in their own search engine should be pretty good evidence that copying and piracy are not, in fact, "theft" and that they don't represent lost sales

What? Does not compute.

If MS truly felt they were losing money, they'd shut down the links. Bing links are, for obvious reasons, much easier to shut down than Google links. But they didn't. You can do the rest of the computation.

Never attribute to malice that which can easily be explained by incompetence.

It's much easier to do when the incompetence is not this selective.

Are you folks seriously insinuating that MS purposely keep Windows and XBox warez links in Bing to compete against Google?

No, actually I was poking fun at what is clearly a case of Big Co incompetence. They are throwing stones from a glass house.

More likely the legal team just forgot that Bing exists.

If MS removed those links from Bing, then people might complain that MS is selectively altering search results for its own benefit. (I'm only half-joking.)

So why are they then contracting out the takedown notices to a third party which must be charging them a whole bunch for sending notices for hundreds of thousands of links? Just to make Bing better and Google worse for 0.01% of popular illegal downloads? Again, does not compute.

Well it points out that Microsoft's internal processes are not well run. Presumably if Microsoft ever chose to sue Google over those contested links it would be a reasonable defense on Google's part that they were doing better than Microsoft's own search engine in complying. If you read Eric Goldman's excellent blog on the topic you can see that to keep your safe harbor status you have to be credibly trying to comply with requests. Being 'better' (as in more compliant) than Microsoft's own search engine would seem to be pretty good affirmative defense.

>Presumably if Microsoft ever chose to sue Google over those contested links it would be a reasonable defense on Google's part that they were doing better than Microsoft's own search engine in complying. If you read Eric Goldman's excellent blog on the topic you can see that to keep your safe harbor status you have to be credibly trying to comply with requests

You're assuming that their law firm sent Bing the takedown request of which there is no evidence. Also, they're completely within their rights to host links of which they own copyright on their own search engine.

>to host links of which they own copyright on their own search engine //

They don't own a copyright on the torrentroom link (for example). There is no copyright in a regular URL¹.

They apparently own the content linked to. But then I own the content of my house that the road network is linked to and that doesn't mean the local government is party to people taking my stuff without asking.

Links may be made unlawful but they're not copyright infringements. IMO they're not even contributory.


¹ It may be possible to craft a URL that has sufficient distinctiveness and artistic merit to acquire a copyright but I can't ever recall seeing one or hearing of one. A URL could be a trademark infringement of course.

Copyright laws clearly apply to data URI

Can you explain please? Do you mean like an image encoded in a URI? If so that's why I called it a "regular URL", so as not to be confused with a URI; to recapitulate I'm referring to a mere link to a resource and not the resource as contained in a link.

That's a valid point, although in the case of links pointing to 'cracked' versions of their tools or operating system it might look silly for Bing to continue to link to them.

I'm not following...there aren't 2 parties. There's 1 party, the people sending a take down notice. The question is why aren't they sending the same take down notices to all search engines which have the material in question?

Quite possibly for the same reason that many, if not most (? I've no idea, really, but certainly plenty of), SEO companies consider Google to be the only actual target, because Bing just isn't popular enough to spend the time on.

If there was a search engine out there that had 10 uniques per month would you expect people to care enough to send take-down notices to them? So where do you draw the line... for some people, you draw it between Google and Bing, not below them both.

Maybe they have and Bing just prioritizes requests differently?

This is interesting though, when I saw the headline about Microsoft making so many takedown requests to Google I assumed the items to be taken down were found by the Bing team, but it seems that isn't the case.

Maybe it is and the Bing team only uses Google to find the links. (lol) Actually didn't Microsoft force their employees to use only Microsoft products? Sometimes it's not fun to eat your own dogfood.

As far as I remember, it was them asking not to buy iPhone. Nothing more. They can't force their employees to use only Microsoft products. They'd be down in a day!

The 2nd party is the team at the search engine that has to take the link down. Maybe Google processes the notices more efficiently. Or maybe Bing prioritizes non-MS takedowns, because they are at greater risk of suit from them.

Although it seems weird that they would have different groups for "remove stuff from Google" and "remove stuff from Bing". Why wouldn't they simply have a group for "remove stuff from search engines"?

I've gotten several of these types of notices before. Usually, it isn't Microsoft that does them directly ("Internet1@microsoft-antipiracy.com"). For instance, the ones I've received as usually signed as "on behalf of Microsoft Corporation" with some third-party legal firm blindly handing these out.

So the fact that one hand doesn't know what the other is doing is probably quite accurate in this case.

Or maybe this company that sent the takedowns, Marketly (not MS, just someone with whom they have a contract), never sent takedowns to Bing. (Why is of course open to speculation; maybe Bing isn't popular enough to be worth the effort)

That still leaves Microsoft in a position where they pay others to send takedown notices to their competitor for the stuff they don't bother to take down themselves. You'd think they'd do that for themselves, too, if they thought those links are so horrible for their own business. My guess is they just want to mess with Google and waste their time on money chasing hundreds of thousands of links a month.

Man, you need to pay more attention to Hanlon's Razor. What's actually happened is Microsoft's xbox division has paid this company to do something about xbox piracy. And this company has sent takedowns (legitimate, I might add) to google, not out of some dastardly plan to waste google's time, but to try and make it harder to find pirated xbox games. The juiciest angle supported by the facts is "third-party Microsoft supplier thinks google more useful than bing", and while that's not exactly flattering to microsoft, it tells us nothing we didn't already know.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that maybe MS is okay with Bing returning results, even pirate results that Google does not.

Maybe MS agrees with the Pirate mantra that piracy doesn't hurt, but help sales. What would happen if pirates, even casual pirates learned that Bing results weren't filtered but Google's were? I would suspect a massive uptake in usage if this was proven. And who are these pirates? They're the most geeky of your friends, the ones who influence and tutor the non-tech savvy about what tech products and services to use (Bing, Windows, Office etc.)

Crazy? Probably. But still fun to consider. Too bad MS is too big, slow and traditional to do something this radical.

Protecting Microsoft's market share and its associated network effect is very important for them - if Windows' share falls below a certain level, writing Word documents, sending PowerPoint presentations, keeping your e-mail in Exchange and your workflows in SharePoint will make much less sense than it does today. As it happens, Microsoft products become less attractive and their share spirals toward an equilibrium point given by their cost/benefit ratio as compared to their competitors.

Even if they lose some sales to piracy, as long as network effect work to their advantage, it's worth to lose it to a free version of their product than to a competitor.

It's unsurprising if they turn a blind eye to piracy when they judge it benefits them.

Having said that, this looks a lot like incompetence, or a contractor that's being paid to issue takedown notices only to Google.

I see a different and more likely possibility. Microsoft has an interest in tracking usage patterns among those inclined toward pirating their software. If the pirates use Google, then they don't have access to that data, whereas they do with Bing. It's not as if Google is likely to share their information.

Anyone else surprised that the use of "bitch" as a verb is suddenly acceptable journalism?

I don't think TechDirt aims to be "on par" with the traditional newspapers when it comes to "controversial" language ;)

Fuck, I don't give two shits about "controversial" language--but overtly, aggressively sexist language? Fuck that.

Wait, do you really consider "bitch" or "bitching" in these contexts sexist, nowadays? I've seen it applied to both genders, and, as in this case, a verb. It's moved on from the controversial stage to a common expression.

Hmm. I agree that it's normalized (as you said below), and not controversial to lots of people. But I think that's because people are mostly fine with casual sexism, as long as it's not too obvious.

So think about this. You've seen it applied to both genders. How is it applied to men? "Whiny little bitch"; "I'm gonna make you my bitch"; "Suck it, bitch"; "Stop bitching ..." Here's what those phrases mean to people, not in the past but today: "you're acting like a weak, pathetic woman"; "I'm going to sexually dominate you like a woman".

How is it applied to women? "Stop your bitching." "Shut up, bitch." "She's such a bitch." Can you guess how those ones come across? "Shut up, stop complaining, and smile the way you're supposed to." "I own you; do what I say." "She doesn't act the way women should."

Right now (if you're not a terrible person :) you're already typing "that's not what it means when I say it!" And I sorta believe you, and that's great. But there's a reason that if you stop using "bitch," you won't have a good word to replace it. "Bitch" is a powerful, useful word exactly because it's great for calling men women, and telling women to stay in their place. Those messages hit hard, because it hasn't been very long since women were literally property, so having a quick way to hit someone with them comes in handy. And you don't get to choose how people hear your words -- when you use it, that's what's lurking right under the surface, and it's what a lot of people will hear.

Go ahead and keep doing it if that's your thing. Even try to reclaim it. But some of us are going to think you're just another schmuck blindly supporting the idea that men are one way and women are another way and men should be in charge of women. I haven't used the word "offensive" here, because that makes it all about me. I'm not offended.* It doesn't matter if I'm offended. What matters is that words promote ideas, and the word "bitch" promotes a stupid idea, and you might not want to do that.

* (Offended is such a weak emotion anyway. I recommend self-righteous anger, bitter amusement, cold calculation or cynical detachment. No one is merely offended.)

Thank you for properly countering my post.

First, I'd like to address this:

"Go ahead and keep doing it if that's your thing."

This hurt me a bit. I was merely quoting and defending the words in this context. I can't recollect having used them myself either when speaking or writing before, ever. I am pretty reserved when it comes to using these kinds of words, even though I am surrounded by people using them every day.

Same thing with "But I think that's because people are mostly fine with casual sexism, as long as it's not too obvious". I am, for example, bothered at times when I hear male classmates saying "Get back in the kitchen." to female ones. It's meant as a joke, it always is, but that doesn't sit right with me.

I look at the individual, not the sex of a person. I consider "bitch" to be a word free from association to the female sex, today. One thing that may be influencing me is that nearly all of my classmates are male, which means that the times I do hear "bitch" it's used with a male... and certainly not in the way you suggest, except for the last one. Which brings me to the point I was trying to make:

It's an expression for "being a pain in the ass", something which both men and women (and all in-between) can be. Leaving the gender fully out of it is a good thing, as someone else has said, the meaning of words can change.

Finally, perhaps there are a few cultural differences. I grew up and live in Sweden, and while we borrow many words from English perhaps not all their meaning, and in particular, the history behind their usage is brought along with them. The old fashioned use of bitch may be more alive in other places, I suppose.

In short, I do not appreciate words and expressions where the downgrading of women is obvious, but I do not consider bitch being one of these words. If you do find someone using it to downgrade women, teach him (or her) a lesson. When I read "And yet, why don't we hear the people who always bitch about Google complaining about Microsoft?", I didn't get an image of "women in their right place" in my head, but one of raging nerds.

Thanks for your reply. Apologies for making it too personal. When I first had this conversation from the other side, I think my stance was "I say 'bitch,' and I'm not sexist, so it must be fine and I just have to figure out why." So I tend to assume other people are coming from the same place, which isn't always true.

Your point about cultural differences is interesting. You said "the times I do hear 'bitch' it's used with a male... and certainly not in the way you suggest, except for the last one." Maybe the point is, if you're talking to American men or women, they will have heard all of the uses of "bitch" I quoted, many times (hopefully more on TV than in real life). So in a general web publication, it comes with that whole baggage. And since all the ways it's used are closely related, you can't really avoid the more sexist connotations.

   "I'm going to sexually dominate you like a woman".
If you want to be pedantic, it's:

  I'm going to sexually dominate you like a female dog.

No, I don't buy that at all. It's unfortunate that it has moved to the common usage, because it is equivalent to "when you complain you sound like a woman, and that is bad." People should learn to speak respectfully instead of normalizing legitimately offensive language.

When it becomes normalized, it's not offensive anymore.. or at least that's how I've always seen it. Meanings of words do change over time.

@karunamon Sorry, no. There's normalization due to changing norms and morays (e.g., "shit"), then there's normalization that's designed to subordinate a group (do you see many whites calling an unfamiliar black man "boy"?). This is much more like the latter. If you would tell your wife, girlfriend, or female coworker to "stop bitching" when she has something to say that you don't want to hear, then you are a chauvinistic asshole.

Whoever was the first to say "shit" causally was probably considered rude. Then others got used to it and decided that it wasn't rude. But the meaning did not actually change.

Whoever was the first to use "bitch" as a verb was almost certainly a male asshole who wanted to subordinate the woman he was talking to. By repeating it, that is the sentiment you are reinforcing, because the meaning does not change. You're normalizing female subordination.

It actually has a lot of parallels with how language changed during and after slavery. Black men call each other "boy" (among other words) and it is positive. Women start groups like "stitch 'n bitch," and it is positive. But if you started referring to your wife's book club as "books and bitching," that's negative. You may not think it's fair, but it's their word.

> the meaning does not change

Your entire argument seems to be predicated on this idea. But the thing is, pretty much every linguist in the world would disagree with the notion. The connotations of words are constantly shifting — there is ample evidence of this throughout the history of languages.

I applaud you for thinking about this sort of thing and speaking out about it, but in this particular case I think you're tilting at windmills.

Even if we accepted this absolutist stance where words' meanings do not change no matter what the common perception or intent of the speaker might be, it still wouldn't be offensive to women. If the word's connotation is immutable, then it does not refer to human women at all, but to dogs, and thus human men have just as much right to the word as human women do. But surely you'd agree the word has acquired new connotations since then, contrary to your claim above.

There might have been some point in history at which your stance was the right one, but if there was, I think that time is long gone. I don't know if you're just that old or if your regional dialect is odd in this regard, but I'm pretty sure the verb "bitch" is not gendered in most people's mental lexicons today. Because it is not particularly associated with them, it does not actually do any harm to women as a group if you use it.

(Note that all this is distinct from the noun "bitch," which is applied to men but is still has gendered associations. Probably best to avoid that one. And obviously avoid both in formal contexts.)

That is crazy. I mean, The Chronic came out in 2001. It's not that long ago. Gangsta h-hop profuse in "BEE-ATCH!" exclamations, as referring to women, is still being produced. Abusive husbands still call their wives bitches. You might be fortunate enough to live in some sort of cultural coordinate in which this is old and odd, but I would struggle seriously to call that situation a representative sample.

To put it the offensive way, nowadays it might be hip and such for white boys to address themselves as niggas, as it has being normalised by hip-hop spatters into the new bro. Still, no non-asshole honky would do so to an actually black person. It would be pretty insensitive, for starters.

Reread the last paragraph of my comment. You're talking about the noun, which I intentionally mentioned to head off responses like this. Yes, that word is offensive. We're talking about a different word.

I think you are correct. And it is funny that when I think of the meaning of the related curse, "son of a bitch", I always interpret it literally as "son of a female dog". I never think of it as, "son of a disreputable woman." This is in contrast to "son of a whore" where the human female allusion is clear.

Whoever was the first to use "bitch" as a verb was almost certainly a male asshole who wanted to subordinate the woman he was talking to. By repeating it, that is the sentiment you are reinforcing, because the meaning does not change. You're normalizing female subordination.

Bitch please!

I actually think that most people agree with you, but being hacker news, the downvotes come from a perceived lack of rigor in your reasoning.

For instance, you say "normalization that's designed to subordinate" -- 'designed,' eh? By whom?

You also state "by repeating it, that is the sentiment you are reinforcing," but I find the justification given confused and weak ('because the meaning does not change').

You also mention a common cultural trend: the notion that words originally applied negatively to groups can be appropriated for positive use by others. But instead analyzing this mechanism, you just blanket-assert that the negative words are the property of the slurred group and that others are, in general, not allowed to use those words.

I don't think most people here would state "I'll use derogatory word X all I want," and I think you're spot-on about the origins of the expression in this case, but this particular post smelled fishy for some reason.

You're right. I advocate that we take a page from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and replace all usage of "mother fucker" with "uncle fucker."

Amen. I bitch constantly and I'm a dude.

Dang, I don't give two craps about controversial language--but overtly violent sexual language, expressing contempt in a way that sounds like rape? Poops on that.

Premature optimization.

First there's the matter of whether or not TechDirt is "journalism." I'm not saying that to be snarky, just pointing out there's still a lot of debate surrounding this issue.

Now, it seems pretty reasonable to assume that if Marketly is sending a takedown to Google to get such a link taken out of its search engine, on behalf of Microsoft, that it quite likely is issuing the same kind of takedown to Microsoft's Bing (hell, you'd perhaps think that Microsoft could just pull the link without a takedown).

I doubt that Microsoft is streamlined enough to allow different departments (Bing and whomever handles DMCAs) to effectively communicate. Microsoft is an immense bureaucracy.

MS hires a third party to police these SERPs. The third party does't send notices to Bing because they'd be threatening their own client! It's that simple.

Anything more would require additional effort and initiative and coordination between the contracting team, the contractor, and the Bing team. Probably someone just hired the third party, turned them loose and didn't put any more thought into it.

It seems surprising that Microsoft even owns copyright in the works that are claimed.

"Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction" is apparently a Ubisoft product, which is a publicly traded company distinct from Microsoft.

Copyright in "Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga" is apparently held by LucasArts.

While they all appear to be Xbox 360 games, being a platform manufacturer doesn't usually mean you own the content produced for that platform. It is possible that the games linked against a Microsoft library, and are infringing against the Microsoft's rights in the library, but then the declaration needs to declare that "that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed" - which means that the allegation of what is being infringed (i.e. a library and not the entire work) should have matched the work Microsoft owned.

I don't even think it was Bing who asked for those links to be removed, it was actually the X-Box division trying to prevent piracy of games on their platform. If anything, Bing probably is much slower and less adept at being able to block these results when compared to Google hence the discrepancy.

Oh, come one people.

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."


If we were to ascribe this to malice, MS achieves two things. First, those search results won't be available at least on one of the main search engines, and this has the effect of cutting the number of illegal downloads. Second, MS has just gotten some traffic to Bing --- MS sure won't be happy to see all those requests for Xbox game torrents, but now it has a little more control on them.

But what are they trying to gain? Users? For me, if I do not find a result on Google, search is over. I never try Bing!

Bing tracks everyone who clicks the links

wow that is some interesting corporate issues... Look our search engine is better it has so many more results... Which we believe to be illegal links and won't let any other search engines help you find... Bing, the best for your warez needs.

Its odd. Its either an over sight. Takedown lost in bureaucracy.

Or.. perhaps comically. This is a third party issueing takedowns on Microsofts behalf. Isn't submiting to Bing due to lack of market share?

Google send takedown requests to Bing for these same Microsoft links.

I am loving the takedown notice for the takedown notice.


Perhaps this is the solution to the entire problem, trap the whole system in a recursive loop. Although then perhaps all the telephones in the world will ring until Douglas Hofstadter answers one of them.

Is that a reference to something? I'm imagining Hofstadter telling fans to call a number at random, and ask the person who answers to call another number at random and repeat the request to whoever answers, with the end result being that Hofstadter's phone would ring and you could talk to him. That sounds like something he'd do, but I can't find a mention of it on Google.

End of lawnmower man.

[edit] but with Douglas Hofstadter. And a kitten. But the kitten is just out of shot, so we can't really see it.

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