Music Industry Wants To Put 'Red Lights' In Google For Sites It Says Support Infringement

from the entitlement-much? dept

The recording industry’s massive sense of entitlement continues to spread. The latest is that PRS for Music, the organization that once sought license fees for playing music to horses in a stable, has suggested that Google start putting “traffic lights” in its search results, with red lights being used to indicate sites that the industry accuses of supporting copyright infringement. You can see what they think it should look like here:

They say that, in the UK, this would meet the Digital Economy Act’s requirement for “consumer education.” Of course, one would hope that consumers were “educated” enough to know that just because someone accuses you of copyright infringement, it doesn’t mean that you’re guilty.

The whole system is modeled on Google’s current practice of warning people about potential security problems with sites. Of course, that involves something that can be much more easily confirmed. In the meantime, I imagine that Google — who spends a ridiculous amount of time and effort to test any UI changes to its search results — is probably horrified by that graphic above.

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Comments on “Music Industry Wants To Put 'Red Lights' In Google For Sites It Says Support Infringement”

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Jeff Rife says:

Re: Re: Re:

Agreed. The real problem with this idea is that it doesn’t go far enough.

Google should use something like awareness ribbons to flag sites. That way, almost every site will have some sort of colored symbol attached to it, and you’d need a cheat sheet to be able to see what each color means.

Even better is that some colors will mean several different things.

Neppe (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ll just quote from ArsTechnica

Please note the last paragraph.

“Finally, we expressed some skepticism about the overall effectiveness of the idea. The PRS proposal posits the existence of a “Moral Majority” for whom Traffic Lights will work. The system will perform the crucial role of “establishing a distinction between good and bad in the minds of users, which we hope will be enough to deter 90 percent of users from accessing problem sites.”

No doubt the right light tick would scare some consumers away. But what about rebellious types, we asked, who might see a red tick as a badge of honor?

“Oh yes,” Hooper agreed. “I think there will be people that deliberately go for a red light. We’re realistic about this proposal?this will not eradicate piracy. What it will do is signpost to the vast majority of people who want to find legal/licensed content a great way of doing so. It will help promote those sites that have chosen to go down the route of paying creators and performers and the more traffic they experience the better for content owners and also for their own sites in terms of search rankings.”

The PRS document does point out that the red light/green light system will create a “vital” distinction will provide the “bedrock” for “an escalating series of measures to deal with the remaining determined offenders.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Simple, think of the children

Perfect example,
in the movie “About a Boy”,
the main character gets money every time a jingle his dead father wrote. Hence the main character gets free money.
So see it protects the children from having to do any work at all. 70 years of free income WOOT, sign me up.
Oh wait, that would be my children.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The usual reply to this is that while the artist was still alive, they would have been more inspired knowing that not only would they be able to profit from their work, but their children and their children’s children would also be looked after.

Reality check; if I want my children to be looked after, I’m expected to save some of what I earn while I’m still alive and put it in a trust fund.

Reality check #2; It’s not their children that end up being looked after when they’re dead, it’s their publisher (the same publisher that already creamed 90%+ of the profit while they were still alive)

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Ergo, when wealthy people die, all their property should be turned over to the state.

Gotcha. I’m sure that will catch on fast and soon be the law around the world.

It already has – it’s called death duties. This would merely bring copyright (which currently escapes the tax) back into like with everything else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Is there really no tax on inherited copyrights? I’ve heard that there’s a tax on simply inheriting your artsy grandmother’s original paintings, which has caused some people problems because if grandma sold just one painting for a hundred or so dollars, then all the inherited paintings are taxed at that rate.

That was something I heard about once. No idea if it’s for real. If so, it seems crazy that inherited copyrights wouldn’t be taxed in the same way.

The Devil's Coachman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Because the scum-sucking, bribe-taking members of the US Congress have deemed it so. That, my friend, is what is behind virtually all the legislation passed within the last 20 years, at least. Bribes, in the form of lobbying, are still bribes, and are still crimes, but the congressional bodies chose to ignore this simple inconvenience, because it could deplete their revenue stream.

The constitution is the farthest thing from the minds of these thieves when they write and pass these laws. I know you didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, and your name is not Pollyanna, but this is what drives the government of the US to do what it does. Bribes! By any other name, it is still bribes. And any member of these supposedly respectable bodies who disputes this is themselves a liar. And I would tell them so to their faces, should they ever chose to bare them, which they will not.

Frankly, the best thing that could happen to the government of the US at this time would be a 100 megaton blast centered on the Capitol dome precisely when they are voting on their next pay and benefits increase. I would probably weep with joy at that. So would most of the nation. It’s really the only chance at freedom we have left. As it stands now, we are quite simply doomed. All government is in the hands of the corporations, and it’s simply too late to do anything anymore. Glad I won’t live to see the final act.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Google will block all infringing sites, then the labels will see their sales dip massively and sue to get back in.

More like: Google will block all infringing sites, then the labels will see their sales dip massively, and then lobby even more to stop the evil pirates.

It’s not like these guys are *smart* or anything.

Copiepresse was different – the publishers knew that their sales would dip if they were deindexed, they just wanted Google to pay them for the privilege of providing traffic. They never for a moment wanted the traffic to go away, their attitude was “Google is making money off *our* content, they must therefore pay us for that privilege.” It’s the same batshit-fucking-insane publisher mentality of “I don’t care if it makes me more money – I don’t control it, therefore they should have the pay me whatever I want.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d write a Chrome app for it myself, if only so I could personally write the Google app store description.
“This is that stupid thing the RIAA wants that puts a red mark next to sites in your search results that make them wet themselves. All it does is make your searches take slightly longer in order to display information you probably couldn’t care less about. Don’t bother installing this.”

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“This is the app you are waiting for it tells you which sites the PRS does not wish you to visit. PRS by their actions have optimized the search for infringing content, surpassing even google. This plug in works with Google, Bing, and the top seven search sites”


They only thing this will do is make it easier to find infringing content. I say let them do this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Browser Plug-In

This is a brilliant suggestion. Google should take the view, “OK, we are willing to develop your browser plug-in for you, plus host its associated server. But it is going to cost you. Here, sign this nice contract.” Once PRS for Music is having to spend their own money instead of somebody else’s, their enthusiasm for spending the money will mysteriously diminish.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

that worked out for the catholic church

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum is the catholic churches list of prohibited books. It turns out it was great advertising for those books. This will lead to an uptick in the usage of those sites.

Let me see if I can get this right, PRS wants to increase traffic to these sites. What self defeating idiots, no wonder the record labels are failing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Infringing as defined by...

Oh they already have decided on the criteria (which you’d know if you had read the Ars article). They want to base it on the number of take-down notices the site recieves.

Consumers need to be educated that youtube is a site dedicated to infringement![/sarc] Yea.. good luck selling this plan to Google.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Would that be before or after Google helpfully provides a way for the user to sort the result by the “traffic light” status.

I’m thinking something like “prs_site_rating:green”.

But seriously, Google can make the effort to put that in if they wanted to, or rather, think it’s a benefit to their users. Of course, one could argue that their users are interested in search results involving “prs_site_rating: red”…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Within a week...

“It’s so crappy you can’t stop downloading it.


Um, wow!! What an incredibly stupid reply.
Have we met?
No… didn’t think so, but yet you still think you have me all figured out, though clearly you have no clue.
If you did, you’d know that I really don’t appreciate people putting words into my mouth, making false assumptions about me, or spreading false accusations about me.

I do, however, thank you for reminding me why it is that I hate stupid people so much.

Perhaps some day you’ll grow up and become a fully functioning member of society, until then… here’s your bottle and blanky to help you snore your way back to sleep.

See? I can make assumptions too. How does it feel?

Bergman (profile) says:

Given how copyright law recognizes certain rights of the consumer, not just the owner of a given copyright…

If someone who supports violating the copyright laws warrants a red stoplight icon, wouldn’t that mean that those who deny fair use would also rate such an icon? I can just imagine how much the RIAA would *howl* if their site rated such a warning…

“…this site has been found to promote violations of the copyright act, and therefore bears a red traffic light icon…”

Vidiot (profile) says:

What's missing

My favorite part: What’s wrong with this familiar-sounding phrase?
“The proposal follows the principle that sites are innocent until guilty…”
PROVEN… that’s the missing word… PROVEN. But it’s not part of the proposal… no proving, thanks.
I’d also wager that there’s more missing language…
“If a site has ignored a number of takedown requests…”
ought to add, “… or finds them without merit…” But somehow, I don’t think that’s the case.

DCX2 says:

Playing devil's advocate...

I know that it’s popular around here to slam on the RIAA, but honestly, I don’t think this idea is that bad.

Consider that in a truly free market, all market participants have total knowledge. Now consider that in a real market, knowledge is limited. This is an attempt to add knowledge to the market place, and more knowledge is not a bad thing.

What they want to do is put a scarlet letter on infringing sights, but that won’t work out the way they intend. Other people rightly point out that the red light will act like a gigantic beacon, drawing in “freetards”.

If they instead chose to put just green lights next to Certified Content Creator Friendly web sites, they would avoid drawing undue attention to infringing sites while simultaneously informing consumers.

teka (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Playing devil's advocate...

you mean it is about forcing a company to deface their own product with markings created by a third party with no liability or transparency.

“hey google! change your layout and process this ever-changing list we will send you to make accusations about the legality of other people’s content! What? why would we pay you to do this random thing we desire?”

WG (profile) says:

Red lighting

On further thought, maybe allowing the content industry to ‘flag’ a suspected site of containing/harboring alleged infringing material could be a good thing for everyone. What if, Google CHARGES whomever/whatever $1 million to ‘flag’ an offending site – each and every time. You want to flag a site? It’ll cost you! And, giving them that particular avenue of approach, the ‘offending’ sites get to sue said company should the truth be anything other.

MD1500 (profile) says:

Sigh. I heard this idea months ago – I can’t believe the UK music industry still think that this is a) workable and b) a good idea.

Typical backwards-looking UK music industry still hasn’t realised that the web is worldwide.

What’s the point in spending millions implementing this ridiculous scheme on, if I can bypass the traffic lights entirely by acessing google in another country?

Also, browser plug-ins like MAFIAAfire or Gee! No Evil would easily remove these changes.

aikiwolfie (profile) says:

I wonder what would happen to music industry sales figures if we all stopped talking about music, stopped singing along to the lyrics, stopped sharing mix tapes, stopped telling each other about new and cool bands we’ve discovered? Would be an interesting experiment. I think we should do what the industry wants. Stop promoting their product and watch their share prices crash.

Josh Taylor says:

Let’s see:

Youtube: Red site

Dailymotion: Red site

fanfiction dot net: Red site

DeviantArt: Red site

Wikipedia: Red site (They stole copyrighted material without permission)

Hulu: Green site

Netflix: Green site.

Copyright is nothing but protection of materialism. Get rid of your internet right now and start asking Jesus into your heart and read the bible.

indieThing (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I disagree totally. The internet is a communication platform – just because I can buy goods over the phone network by calling a shop, doesn’t mean the phone system is fucked.

If anything, the internet gives the comman person more power, people now know more about what their government is doing for example.

There are also more ‘little’ people making a good living without having to be a wage slave to some faceless corporation.

In my book, this adds up to a more powerful, more informed and wealthier populace.

Nicedoggy says:


Another challenge would be how to get search engines to implement this scheme. The PRS scheme doesn’t address that problem. Instead it observes that the red/green distinction is already implemented in another context?the colors are already used by Internet security services to warn users away from sites that may contain Trojan or phishing scams. “This Traffic Lights proposal extends these services to inform users of potential copyright issues with a site, as well as other unfair or unsafe trading practices.


And there you have it folks, things that wasn’t suppose to do things get expanded to include more things. So when anyone tells you that COICA or ACTA or any other nonsense like that will not be used in some way you can bet it will be used in the future to do everything they said it wouldn’t be used to.


Who would be represented on this body? The proposal doesn’t say, but its closing statement offers a hint about the makeup. “Traffic Lights has a valuable role as a consumer education initiative,” the missive concludes. “We would like to work with ISPs, Internet security software providers, rightsholders, and other partners, to deliver this solution as soon as practicably possible.”

They don’t want consumer advocates on that panel ever apparently since they forgot to mention those who try to protect the people.


The PRS document does point out that the red light/green light system will create a “vital” distinction will provide the “bedrock” for “an escalating series of measures to deal with the remaining determined offenders.”


Translation “We are already thinking of ways on how to use that to block websites that are accused, without caring if the website is actually innocent or not, and we will use this to force ridiculously pricey contracts on others or they face being labeled illegal websites”.

On the bright side who cares, I don’t, most of music piracy happens on legal sites anyways since piracy for music have dropped dramatically is obvious that people found other ways to find that music and they are not paying for it LoL

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Translation “We are already thinking of ways on how to use that to block websites that are accused, without caring if the website is actually innocent or not, and we will use this to force ridiculously pricey contracts on others or they face being labeled illegal websites”.

This is exactly why it’s proposed. It’s step one on the master plan towards censoring the pages.

If you can id them, it’s not hard to censor them. You can hear it now, “Google knows which pages are hosting infringing content, just look at the red lights! It’s their duty to prevent lawlessness and blatant disregard to IP on the interwebs!”

Ben (profile) says:

Simpler method

Assuming you agree to their bullshit, there is a simpler way than using ignored DMCA takedowns.

Just have a whitelist of approved sites, based on the PRS own knowldge of licensensing deals. All other sites are therefore unlicensed.

Or is that too simple for the idiots at PRS?

(Yes yes I know that all of this is secondary to putting in place a good business model, not sueing the fans etc)

Otm Shank (profile) says:


By their illustration, did they just appropriate Google’s intellectual property without licensing it? Someone’s in for a red light!

Also, I like how the traffic lights are to the left, while all other Google/AV icons are to the right. Don’t want to get jumbled in with everyone else’s information; this is important to know this arbitrary status.

DannyB (profile) says:

If they know what sites are infringing

If they know which sites are infringing, then why don’t they use their draconian laws to simply get those sites shut down.

Why are they always so focused on links. Enablers. Facilitators. Why harm innocent people. Why not just go directly after the pirates?

Why extradite a kid who ran a site that is legal in his own country, just because he LINKED to some videos? How many other sites link to those videos? If you simply got rid of the site HOSTING the videos, then the sites that link to them wouldn’t matter anymore.

It’s like trying to get rid of signs that say “The Crack House is located on 123 Maple St.”. If you get rid of the crack house, then all of the signs that direct people to it become irrelevant.

These people are not very bright.

Don’t they have the draconian laws to just shut down the hosting sites? Don’t they own enough governments that will do whatever they say? Oh, but it must be the links that actually matter.

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