What’s happening with the new Google lawsuits regarding AI chatbot scams and fraudulent DMCA strikes?
Google made a significant move on Monday, initiating legal proceedings with two distinct lawsuits, each holding the potential to establish new legal precedents.
Google’s response to scammers comes at a time when emerging AI technology is creating unique questions about intellectual property, copyright infringement, cybersecurity, and technology fraud.
Let’s look at both cases and see how all four of these topics come into play.
The Google Bard Lawsuit
Google has filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California against three unidentified scammers capitalizing on the popularity of Google’s artificial intelligence chatbot, Bard. Exploiting public interest, the scammers set up fake social media accounts promoting a deceptive version of Bard, leading unsuspecting users to download malware that compromised their social media accounts. This legal action, the first of its kind by a major tech company, sheds light on the evolving legal landscape surrounding artificial intelligence and the challenges posed by cybercriminals as they find ways to manipulate and employ new technology.
As part of the lawsuit, Google is alleging trademark infringement, citing the unauthorized use of Google’s logo to promote the fraudulent Bard scheme. Additionally, the company is pursuing a breach of contract claim, despite not yet knowing the identities of the scammers. This is because the scammers used Google Sites and Google Drive accounts to host malware.
Commencing legal proceedings against unidentified individuals is not uncommon in cases dealing with cybersecurity; the discovery process can lead to the proper identification of the defendants in such cases.
This move by Google aligns with its broader efforts to combat fraudulent activities associated with its services. “Since April, we have filed roughly 300 takedowns related to this group of bad actors,” says Halimah DeLaine Prado, General Counsel for Google.
“We are seeking an order to stop the scammers from setting up domains like these and allow us to have them disabled with U.S. domain registrars.” According to Prado, this would help prevent similar scams in the future.
Google’s False DMCA Lawsuit
In a parallel legal battle, Google has filed another lawsuit in the Northern District of California, accusing fraudsters of orchestrating a systematic campaign against competitors through false copyright claims.
The lawsuit alleges the defendants, comprising 2 individuals and 20 Does, established more than 65 Google accounts and submitted thousands of fraudulent copyright notices against over 117,000 websites.
In a footnote, Google adds that “Defendants submitted thousands more notices of alleged copyright infringement targeting more than half a million URLs.”
This aggressive misuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) highlights the challenges tech companies face in safeguarding their platforms from malicious actors seeking to undermine competition.
Halimah DeLaine Prado, Google’s general counsel, emphasized the significance of these legal actions in a blog post. She underscored the company’s commitment to setting legal standards in the face of technological innovation and stressed the need for clear rules against fraud, scams, and harassment.
It’s worth mentioning that “on information and belief, Defendants are based in Vietnam and have no physical presence in the U.S. despite their representations to the contrary.”
At the time of this writing, a YouTube video cited in the complaint that offers a tutorial on how to submit Fake DMCA complaints to Google is still uploaded to YouTube.
Is it possible Google is hoping for a summary judgment to use as a precedent? Start the conversation in the comments.
Key Considerations about Google Lawsuits and Online Content Protection
Google’s decision to take action against DMCA fraud and the Bard scams can protect both their own interest and the interests of its users.
However, the juxtaposition of Google’s proactive stance against AI chatbot scammers and its softer approach to DMCA issues outside of this specific case raises questions about the company’s overall strategy for protecting creators and publishers.
For example, Google took a rather soft approach to DMCA enforcement in a comment to the US Patent Office this August, though the issue of sports streaming is quite different from false DMCA striking aimed at fraudulently knocking competition out of the rankings. The latter is uniquely important as businesses can lose their entire domain, not just their search engine indexing.
Additionally, many content creators are left to fight fraudulent DMCA claims on their own. One popular example was Destiny 2 Maker Bungie’s battle against YouTuber LordFazo. In many instances, YouTube’s appeal process for strikes leads nowhere even when the strike is invalid.
Because the DMCA suit is naming non-residents as defendants, perhaps Google’s strategy is to win a summary judgment. And though I personally wish Google would advocate more strongly for creators and publishers receiving false strikes, particularly on YouTube, some type of precedent would be a welcomed start.
Regardless of whether either or both of these cases move forward, it’s interesting to see Google step into the ring. And for SEO marketers, it’s good to know Google is doing something to protect the integrity of SERPs, especially as favored snippets like FAQs are reducing in prominence.
- Statement from Halimah DeLaine Prado: Why Google is taking legal action to protect AI users and small businesses (blog.google)
- Google’s August 23, 2023 comment to the Patent and Trademark Office: https://www.regulations.gov/comment/PTO-C-2023-0006-0052
- Google Bard Lawsuit Complaint – Full Case Filing: GOOGLE BARD LAWSUIT complaint.pdf
- Google DMCA Frauster Complaint PDF – Full Case Filing: 2023.11.13 Google complaint for filing
Subscribe to my YouTube channel more marketing news munchies.
Any opinions expressed are my own unless stated otherwise. Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.