House Hearing On File Sharing Turns Into 'But Why Can't Google Magically Stop All Bad Things Online' Hearing

from the no-surprise-there dept

You kind of knew where things were heading when the House decided to have pre-COICA hearings on what websites can do to deal with copyright infringement — especially when they titled it “Promoting Investment and Protecting Commerce Online: Legitimate Sites v. Parasites.” The very fact that they’re presupposing certain sites as “parasites,” suggests this hearing was not about reasoned discussion (is any Congressional hearing ever really about that?), but about pointing fingers, and the key finger pointing was directly at Google. I’ll have a separate post on the “prepared remarks” of the various speakers, but the Congressional Reps in attendance apparently focused most of their attention on Google, wondering why it’s not magically stopping infringement online.

“The question isn’t what Google has done,” [Rep. Bob] Goodlatte told the audience. “But more about what Google has left to do.”

He listed some of the accusations that some in the entertainment industries have leveled at Google, such as the ability of the alleged pirate sites to fund their operations by posting Google ads on their site, as well as an inability by Google to remove infringing materials promptly.

Note what he did not do, which is point out that Google has gone significantly beyond what the law requires to help copyright holders. It’s even set up ways for them to directly monetize content when it’s found to be infringing online. You would think that helping copyright holders monetize is more important than “stopping infringement,” but somehow no one ever seems to think that way. Also note that Goodlatte simply took the (mostly false) accusations by the entertainment industry as fact — and didn’t seem to pay attention to the fact that almost none of the accusations were accurate.

Of course, the real crux of the argument is this belief that Google can somehow wave a magic wand and make infringement disappear online. It’s technological cluelessness at its most extreme. Google has a long history of responding quickly to take down notices and (in our opinion) bending over backwards, far beyond what the law requires, to help copyright holders both defend their rights and to make money. The idea that Google “profits” from infringement has simply not been shown at all. The entertainment industry has this weird belief that anywhere AdSense ads are displayed, that massive profits follow. This is simply incorrect. But, even if it were true, how is Google to know what is and what is not infringing? It’s a simple question and no one answers it, other than to say, “it’s obvious.” Then when it’s pointed out that it’s not at all obvious, they go quiet.

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Comments on “House Hearing On File Sharing Turns Into 'But Why Can't Google Magically Stop All Bad Things Online' Hearing”

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Ima Fish (profile) says:

Remember in the old days when nearly everyone accessed the internet via Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser? Back then, plenty idiots thought that IE was in fact the internet. Or at they very least, they’d equate it with the internet.

The same is now true of Google. Because people use Google to access sites, because they’re too clueless to enter urls or save bookmarks, they think they’re actually accessing materials on Google.

To the old idiots out there: Google is like the yellow pages. It just points you were to go and it’s not responsible for anything you do when you get there.

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The yellow pages are a short list of ads sorted and arranged by human beings.”

Hmmm…I can see it now: a warehouse full of people arranging scraps of paper by hand until everything is just right. Then they call in the scrapbook experts to put it all together in a nice tidy package. NOT!

That work is all sorted and arranged by computer software algorithms and/or databases which alphabetizes the items at the click of a button. It’s called “publishing software”. It requires a human to push some keys to indicate the desired output – very much like a Google search.

sam sin says:

seems reasonable to assume from the article that this particular Rep is an ‘article’ himself. totally clueless to all things internet related, not just Google related. why oh why dont these people do some research before opening their mouths and making absolute prats of themselves? why cant they see that the entertainment industries are using them? how often do we see entertainment industry ‘high ups’ come out with stupid statements, only to be shot down? these public representatives are supposed to know better, but in actual fact are much worse. they can ignore facts under the guise ‘in the interest of the public’. what crap!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They go quiet because they realize you’re batshit insane.

Those layoffs at record labels because half of their revenue disappeared are real. Those are job losses.

The fact that Mike Masnick ignores them and writes snarky hit pieces every day here, demonstrate how committed he is to supporting piracy.

Gwiz (profile) says:

This really make some sense. If they can equate Google with the internet as a whole, then Google can be blamed for EVERYTHING.

Think about it:

– Banks use the internet for transactions – Banking crises is Google’s fault.

– Wall Street uses internet for transactions – financial crash was all Google’s fault

– Google Maps displays entire world – earthquake in Japan was Google’s fault.

– YouTube show videos of cats – any abuse of animals anywhere is Google’s fault.

It’s a magical, instantaneous scapegoat for everything!

Nom du Clavier (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s not nearly absurd enough. Before Google you could blame Microsoft for providing the OS most people consume their internets from. Before them you could blame Intel and AMD for providing the processors. Before them you could blame the sand turned into silicon.

Clearly they should blame the Earth, if not the entire universe. After all, these people do seem to argue that where reality disagrees with their point of view, reality is in the wrong.

Matthew (profile) says:

The question is not...

The question isn’t what Smith & Wesson has done to prevent armed robbery, but more about what they have left to do.

The question isn’t what AstraZeneca has done to cure cancer, but more about what they have left to do.

The question isn’t what Halliburton has done to stabilize the situation in the Middle East, but more about what they have left to do.

The question isn’t what Ford has done to prevent accident fatalities, but more about what they have left to do.

The question isn’t what Citigroup has done to prevent risky investments and outright fraud from destroying the economy, but more about what they have left to do.

The question isn’t what tuna have done to ensure the health of the shark population, but what they have left to do.

Anyone want to guess which of these similar formulations the reps would be willing to stand behind? I’d say 1 – sharks are covered by the ABA’s lobbying arm.

Anonymous Coward says:

I wish it were possible for there to be a Google-less month to show folks that the next exists and that even without Google, things don’t just up and disappear.

The line about determining what is or is not infringement is hampered on purpose by the entertainment industries themselves. You can’t tell one from the next on which is or is not copyrighted by a file. Especially if the metadata was altered.

The entertainment industries don’t want to tell exactly which is which. It serves their purposes far better to hide it all. This is one of the reasons the site, is to determine which songs and albums are or are not those belonging to the big 3 labels. There is no reasonable way to tell.

The entertainment industries are milking this for all it’s worth. They won’t give you the names of albums and songs, they will instead sell you a filtering program they will control.

So it looks here as if they are pushing their market again as the hidden agenda.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m sorry, 2007 is when that site was put up on Wikipedia. The RIAA site actually hasn’t been updated since 2003, but for some reason that information was taken down from Wikipedia since I last posted it.

But this is pretty common knowledge anyways, the reason the RIAAradar site exists is because the RIAA never updates their website. Many people have complained that they’re not (or that they’re no longer) members and they’re still incorrectly listed on the site, and many people who are now members aren’t listed on that site because it hasn’t been updated in so long.

Anonymous Coward says:

Destroying My Searching....

I am so sick and tired of all this ballyhoo about what google displays for results and what they don’t.

I miss the days where I could type in what I am searching for, and it would bring me back all sorts of strange and wonderful results. It was like peering into the brain of humanity, the weird, the gross, the funny, the serious, the entertaining…

Now all I get are ads, and ‘properly filtered results based on someone else’s idea of what is legit and/or not infringing’.

Well, screw your version of the Internet. I’m going back to my game, where we can invent/create/evolve/play/enjoy without someone demanding payment for every single little aspect.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Promoting Investment and Protecting Commerce Online: Legitimate Sites v. Parasites.”

The purpose of copy’right’ isn’t about promoting investment and protecting commerce, job creation and job security is not the governments job, the purpose of copy’right’ is about promoting the progress. This is practically an admission that the legal system does not intend for copy’right’ to promote the progress, but to protect industry profits.

bob (profile) says:

Massive profits

I love how you exonerate Google simply because the AdSense ads don’t produce “massive profits”. What a cute way to jump over the fact that they do profit from the sites. Just claim that the profits aren’t massive so move along now. Nothing to see here.

And while I admit that Google’s offer to monetize my video might be tempting because they’re pretty talented at placing ads, I think it’s more than a bit rude to offer the revenue afterwards. It’s traditional to ask before taking.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Massive profits

I think it’s funny how these little droids have allowed themselves to be used as footsoldiers in more of the same when it comes to corporate greed.

It’s so obvious; it’s like the classic dangling a lollipop in front of them…

“Just promise them free music and they’ll do whatever we want.”

You were so totally used.

The Devil's Coachman (profile) says:

Re: Mike Masnick Gets Owned By Floyd Abrams On Free Speech Issues

Ordinarily, I would simply call you an idiot, but that would be very offensive to actual idiots. You seem to have accomplished an order of magnitude increase in idiocy that presently is in need of a new term to describe it. I’m sure someone will come up with the answer soon.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

“It’s a simple question and no one answers it, other than to say, “it’s obvious.””

It is obvious though. Google needs to use the nuclear option. Ban search results containing content from RIAA, MPAA, etc. All search results that contain titles that match movie and album names. All websites mentioning TV shows, movies, and records from the labels. Remove all content from big content from YouTube.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Where is Microsoft in all of this?

I can’t find any reference to Bing being included in the hearings. Also no Yahoo, no Baidu. This actually seems like more of the same from microsoft, Microsofts unfair competition laws passed state by state, Microsofts EU harassment of google via the anti trust case and unfair competition complaint.

I wonder if Bing and yahoo are going to be exempted from these laws when they are passed?

Could the content industry and MS have gotten together to take on Google?

If so it makes sense from MS’s perspective not from the content industry perspective. MS like GE (think NBCU sale) probably has a good idea that the price of content to the consumer is going to zero. That the content monopoly bubble is going to crash over the next couple years.

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