Film studio Warner Brothers has asked Google to remove its own website from search results, saying it violates copyright laws.
It also asked the search giant to remove links to legitimate movie streaming websites run by Amazon and Sky, as well as the film database IMDB.
The request was submitted on behalf of Warner Brothers by Vobile, a company that files hundreds of thousands of takedown requests every month. Warner Brothers has yet to comment.
The self-censorship was first spotted by news blog Torrent Freak, which said Vobile had made some “glaring errors”. In one request, Google was asked to remove links to the official websites for films such as Batman: The Dark Knight and The Matrix.
Licensed online movie portals such as Amazon and Sky Cinema were also reported for copyright infringement. “Warner is inadvertently trying to make it harder for the public to find links to legitimate content, which runs counter to its intentions,” said Ernesto van der Sar, from Torrent Freak.
Companies such as Vobile typically work on behalf of major film studios, reporting illegally uploaded copies of movies and television programmes.
Google’s transparency report says Vobile has submitted more than 13 million links for removal. It also reveals other potential mistakes – such as film studio Lionsgate reporting a copy of London Has Fallen found on the Microsoft download store.
“Unfortunately these kind of errors are very common,” said Mr Van der Sar. “Piracy monitoring firms often use automated systems to find and report copyright infringing websites. “I’m fairly certain that this happened here as well, considering the obvious mistakes that were made.
“A good approach would be to white-list non-infringing sources such as warnerbros.com and amazon.com – but apparently that didn’t happen.” After reviewing the Warner Brothers report, Google decided not to remove links to Amazon, IMDB and Sky Cinema from its results.