Megaupload Indictment Shows That Google Does Actively Police Against Its Ads Showing Near Infringement

from the oh-look-at-that... dept

One small point in the Megaupload indictment is worth calling out for reasons that have little to do with the case at hand. It seems that it’s become vogue in Hollywood over the last couple of years to blame Google for everything. You see all sorts of stories claiming that Google is the main cause of “piracy” and conspiracy theories bizarrely claiming that Google was the main force behind stopping SOPA/PIPA because it “profits from piracy.” There are tons of stories claiming that Google refuses to pull ads from sites that engage in widespread infringement. But… right there, smack dab in the middle of the Megaupload indictment is the fact that, pretty early on, Google dumped Megaupload because a review of the account found lots of infringing content:

On or about May 17, 2007, a representative from Google AdSense, an Internet advertising company, sent an e-mail to DOTCOM entitled “Google AdSense Account Status.” In the e-mail, the representative stated that “[d]uring our most recent review of your site [Megaupload.com,]” Google AdSense specialists found “numerous pages” with links to, among other things, “copyrighted content,” and therefore Google AdSense “will no longer be able to work with you.”

Note that this in May of 2007… way before the widespread claims by Hollywood folks began saying that Google turned a blind eye to any infringement it found. Seems like this part of the indictment suggests otherwise.

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Companies: google, megaupload

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Comments on “Megaupload Indictment Shows That Google Does Actively Police Against Its Ads Showing Near Infringement”

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59 Comments
spookiewon (profile) says:

Re: Actually,

If you read some of the early reports, Dotcom REALLY IS his real name, just not his birth name. He had it LEGALLY changed. I really don’t see that his name would be any less believable a last name than the person who replied to one of G+ comments the other day whose apparent “real name” is jason Lastname. I know of people whose real names have been rejected by Google for G+ because they don’t look real, yet Mr. Lastname still has an account.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well, of course

Exactly. Who holds the copyrights in question, and are THEY actually complaining? Several posts since this came out mention or headline folks who WANTED their copyrighted material shared. What Big Rights Holders want does not mean that Independent Rights Holders want the same thing. I wonder when the number of copyrights held by individuals will surpass the Big Rights Holders? Even when this happens, the independents will probably not have the same lobbying power as the incumbent entitlementists. Too bad!

Anonymous Coward says:

“Of course the entertainment industry won’t stop claiming that Google profits off of copyright infringement, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t use this evidence to say, “See? Even Google dropped Megaupload because they are such a den of piracy! Clearly this proves their guilt!””

Not an entirely unfair response given Google’s forfeiture of $500 million in profits from promoting illegal pharmacies. Go look at some of the other sites running ads from Adsense. Google hardly has clean hands.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The pharmacies weren’t necessarily illegal, just Canadian:

“Google Inc. has agreed to pay $500 million to settle a U.S. government investigation into the Internet search leader’s distribution of online ads from Canadian pharmacies illegally selling prescription and non-prescription drugs to American consumers…”

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2011/08/24/AP-Google-Settles-for-500M-in-Pharmacy-Ad-Scandal.aspx#page1

Google (and other search engines that weren’t taken to task, most likely) apparently was violating some kind of law against importing medication, but I kinda get the impression that the law is about protecting overpriced US drugs from strapped Americans looking for more affordable meds.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I have no problems with people accessing cheaper medicine. My concern is that they get what they’re supposed to be getting. I have no real issues with drug patent laws. After 17 years, generics are allowed. But the cost of developing medications is such that this seems like a reasonable period and the companies should not have to tolerate being ripped off during that period.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

and there is plenty of reason to believe that the pharmaceutical industry exaggerates its R&D costs.

If we want to give them patents, fine, but there needs to be some guidelines.

No patents on anything that receives any help from government funding.

I want independent auditors auditing their costs so that we can better determine how much they spend on R&D and tailor patent lengths accordingly. You want free market capitalism, abolish patents. You want a government established monopoly it should be tightly regulated and the public has a right to know how well those regulations are working.

TasMot (profile) says:

Google AdSense specialists found “numerous pages” with links to, among other things, “copyrighted content,” and therefore Google AdSense “will no longer be able to work with you.”

Under current copyright law, everything set down in a fixed form has a copyright. Even what I’m writing here (may, depending on whether or not is is just facts) now has a copyright. The vast majority of web pages that Google crawls and indexes (and they store in their archives) are copyrighted.

When will the insanity stop????

awa says:

Multiple Readings

As suggested above, this revelation can be spun multi-valently. Another potentially “bad” reading would be “See, if Google can drop Megaupload, it can drop other sites similar to it i.e. it IS capable of policing its networks and therefore should police its networks, or otherwise be held liable.” The major response I can provide is from the Tiffany v. Ebay counterfeiting case, in which the judge held that eBay’s good faith in trying to police its site for counterfeits was a point in eBay’s favor AND, at the same time, eBay had no affirmative duty to pro-actively police its site without specific knowledge of likely infringement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Multiple Readings

Then you are not an IT guy because everybody who ever had to look at a log file with more than a thousands lines knows that no one will look through it manually ever! and there are no tools to guarantee 100% of anything, now with copyshit is even more problematic since there is no way to distinguish between legal or illegal usage, there is no way to say if something is illegal or legal just by looking at it, one can make assumptions but those can be wrong, further start snooping on people and they will find ways to protect themselves, force the issue and they will go after you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Multiple Readings

I don’t think the question is ‘can they’ because obviously with enough time and man hours anything is possible. The question is ‘do we want to force them too with threats of civil liability or criminal culpability’ and that question is two fold. First, do we really want laypersons making decisions like what is and is not infringing? That’s certainly going to invite a very limited reading of legality due to the risks involved. Copyright isn’t a simple ‘is this legal or not’ situation after all since the manner of the material’s use is what determines legality, not merely the use itself. This calls into question both google’s own due diligence as well as any information from aggrieved parties since it’s easy to make mistakes and aggrieved parties have a history of over estimating what is and is not a legal use. Second, is it really worth driving up the costs of providing any kind of service on the internet with these added responsibilities? Enforcement is not free and considering the purpose of copyright it’s not entirely clear that it’s worth the cost to these third parties to aid by manually policing in this manner.

Michael says:

While Google may not be the bastion of sound, ethical business practices, these mega corps aren’t exactly in a position to go around pointing fingers at anyone. Copyright law empowers these mega corps to the point where it works against the common wealth and stifles art, innovation and technological progress. It has become an epidemic, a virus which cannot be contained, and its stench reaches us all.

Anonymous Coward says:

the entertainment industries will use anything and everything in whatever way they can as long as it is to their advantage at the time. whether it is true or not, is a completely different thing. unfortunately, Google is the ‘in flavour’ atm for being blamed for everything possible. that saves the real culprit from having to own up and take the blame!

Anonymous Coward says:

And yet you still claim that sites self-policing against infriging content is impossible. This proves that your claims are wrong. It is possible for sites to police against piracy. There may be cases where it isn’t obvious that something is infringing but in cases where well known works that are clearly under copyright (such as a newly released blockbuster Hollywood movie) are being shared it would be simple to police.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 24th, 2012 @ 9:04am

Sorry, but unfortunately for your argument Viacom have already proven that even copyright holders have trouble distinguishing between infringing content and content they made available themselves.

The point its that services like google should not be pandering too the kind of ignorant fools who believe you can just look and see to know that any particular piece of content is infringing.

hothmonster says:

Re: Re:

True the can police themselves and this is proof that they do. But it doesn’t mean they can or necessarily should have to check every site they do business with everyday. Hell I doubt they have the staff to review every site they do business with once a year. They do what they can and make good faith efforts, but policing copyright content is the task of the copyright holder pure and simple. But for some reason they think its too hard for them to have to police their content but it should be simple for other companies to do it for them. Of course contradictions are their specialty though.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m just going to repeat this here. A special copy of it shared just for you:

I don’t think the question is ‘can they’ because obviously with enough time and man hours anything is possible. The question is ‘do we want to force them too with threats of civil liability or criminal culpability’ and that question is two fold. First, do we really want laypersons making decisions like what is and is not infringing? That’s certainly going to invite a very limited reading of legality due to the risks involved. Copyright isn’t a simple ‘is this legal or not’ situation after all since the manner of the material’s use is what determines legality, not merely the use itself. This calls into question both google’s own due diligence as well as any information from aggrieved parties since it’s easy to make mistakes and aggrieved parties have a history of over estimating what is and is not a legal use. Second, is it really worth driving up the costs of providing any kind of service on the internet with these added responsibilities? Enforcement is not free and considering the purpose of copyright it’s not entirely clear that it’s worth the cost to these third parties to aid by manually policing in this manner.

isaac Kotlicky (profile) says:

You're missing the point!

Hasn’t anyone read TV tropes!
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EvenEvilHasStandards
The whole POINT of this is to show that Megaupload is such a dastardly bunch of seal-clubbing, baby-kicking, puppy-skinning ghouls that even a corporation as EVIL as Google is disgusted by their nazi-like behavior!

You know – like how the Joker (Google) refused to work with Red Skull (Megaupload) the Nazi against Batman (MPAA/RIAA).

See? it fits!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You're missing the point!

Or like how Coke had to create their evil counterpart, Fanta, to continue to sell products to Nazi’s without tarnishing their name? And now Coke abuses people in Latin America and markets Fanta to latin american’s because they won’t touch Coke? Oh, no wait…thats just evil pretending to have standards which I guess is more like the AA.

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