Entertainment Industry Embraces New Business Model: Suing Google For Third-Party Android Apps That 'Promote Piracy'

from the piracy:-keeping-lawyers-employed-since-1999 dept

Who says the entertainment industry can’t embrace new business models? From their ham-fisted attempts to make digital movie distribution less convenient than driving to the store and purchasing a DVD to their recent “collateral revamping” of various cloud services, the entertainment industry has never been more flexible.

Plagiarism Today points us to the bold new direction the entertainment industry will be heading in the future. More specifically, a bold new direction the entertainment industry’s lawyers will be headed.

[A]t a charity luncheon for the Entertainment Law Initiative, which was raising money for the Grammy Foundation, there was a thunderous applause from the audience, mostly comprised of attorneys, over a paper regarding Android applications the promote piracy wondering why no lawsuits had been filed against Google for secondary liability. Though most of the other papers admitted only received scattered applause, that one seemed to whip the crowd into a frenzy, indicating the possibility that industry lawyers are considering such a tactic in the near future.

It’s not an entirely new direction. Google is still the entertainment industry’s favorite punching bag. But, hey, billable hours! New billable hours! Surely that’s reason for a standing ovation! And a platform switch! Exciting!

A few more details emerged at the Wall Street Journal:

[T]he room went nuts during videotaped remarks by Ryanne E. Perio, a student at Columbia Law School, who wrote about Android smartphone apps that facilitate piracy.During remarks describing her paper, Perio wondered aloud why offering those apps hadn’t generated lawsuits against Android parent Google, for “secondary copyright infringement” – i.e. facilitating piracy.

There seems to be no link to Perio’s actual paper, entitled, “Policing The Android Market: Why The Expanding DMCA May Harbor Google From Liability For Illegal File-Sharing Apps Available On Android,” so it’s unclear whether Perio is referencing the official Android app store or simply broadbrushing (+4 troll points) Google as co-conspirators on any piece of software compatible with the Android platform.

If it’s the App Store angle, it’s a bit like claiming Walmart is responsible for secondary infringement because they sell copies of Nero (not to mention computers, blank discs, cable modems and other tools of the pirate trade). If it’s just because it’s Google’s platform, then it’s about as meritous as suing Microsoft because Limewire Frostwire runs on Windows.

Of course, a lack of merit has never stopped a lawsuit. And it certainly has never stopped lawyers from racking up expensive hours constructing a variety of legal Spruce Gooses. Sadder still, it has never stopped a court from rendering a ridiculous decision in favor of the even more ridiculous plaintiffs.

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Comments on “Entertainment Industry Embraces New Business Model: Suing Google For Third-Party Android Apps That 'Promote Piracy'”

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Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Why don't we sue more lawyers?

I think it is time that companies start suing lawyers for costing them millions (?billions?) in legal expenses for filing BS lawsuits.

Of course they will have to pay a lawyer to handle the suit. Crap, forget that. Just take all lawyers out to the Pacific and dump them with heavy bundles of legal papers attached to their feet.

Baldaur Regis (profile) says:

What do call...

…1,000 lawyers laying on the bottom of the ocean? A good beginning.

What’s the difference between a laeyer and a hooker? There are some things a hooker won’t do.

Lawyers are like nuclear weapons – once you use them, everything gets fucked up.” Paraphrase from “My Cousin Vinny”

Some notions are just too absurd to be taken seriously and one would hope this would get laughed out of court. But aren’t most if not all judges lawyers also?

Y.Bhargav (profile) says:

Pirates of the Caribbean ?

Let us sue Record labels for promoting songs about sex, guns, drugs which lead to an increase in teens experimenting with them and hence breaking the law. Movies showing thefts, murderers and assassins as cool hence teaching kids money can be made by breaking the law… this is a clear case of Secondary Liability these industries are making money by by seducing the innocent public into a lifestyle of crime.

Anonymous Coward says:

at least Google has the financial and legal clout to fight this but, Jeez, is this an ideal opportunity to do some serious Google-bashing that just about every US politician seems to want to do? i wonder if this could be the ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’ and Google finally says ‘enough is enough. US, you can now kiss my arse goodbye’. it really needs to happen. there wont be any attitude changes until giant companies like this move their business to other countries, away from US interference!

Anonymous Coward says:

I think that this line of logic actually has some merit – but only as it pertains to the content of the app marketplace that Google runs, at least as it related to Google.

It’s not the operating system that is in question, it’s the app store that is in question. If you can buy or download “approved” apps via google’s marketplace intended to violate copyright, then they do have some liability. Since Google charges some money to open a developer / seller account, it is clear that they are put themselves in a position of at least some responsibility.

Is it enough to pass the bar? Not sure. But I think the lawyer’s logic is at least somewhat more reasonable than the Lessig 1st Amendment challenges.

Mark Murphy (profile) says:


If you can buy or download “approved” apps via google’s marketplace intended to violate copyright, then they do have some liability.

Google does not approve apps for the Android Market. Anyone with $25 can list whatever apps they wish. Google can and does review apps after receiving complaints, where those apps violate the Market terms and conditions. Apple, Amazon, and other firms review all submissions to their respective markets/stores/whatever.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:


Google has on many occasions removed harmful/infringing apps.

Specific examples: Tricorder App – due to takedown request from the Roddenberry estate.

Better Keyboard (though there’s an imitator of the same name up now) due to ‘too many notices’ as they uploaded user made keyboard skins on their account, and one too many of the skins was deemed ‘infringing’ by some over zealous legal beagle(s).

Plus they’ve used their ‘kill switch’ on a couple of very bad virus/trojan/hijack apps.

Another, I forget the name, which showed where; according to area code & prefix; your caller was calling from–because some jackass claimed to have a patent on looking up area codes.

Your vaunted ‘app approval process’ is nothing more than a control mechanism which limits innovation. Google likes innovation, so they instead have an ‘app takedown process’ for whatever legal dorks out there feel offended by an app.

Anonymous Coward says:


It’s not the content that is in question, it’s the method of accessing the content that is in question. If you can buy “approved” VCR’s via google’s (or Amazon, or E-bay, or even Wal-Mart’s) marketplace which are solely intended to violate copyright, then they do have some liability. Since Google and others charge some money to purchase a VCR, it is clear that they are putting themselves in a position of at least some responsibility.


Come on, if it applies to google and Apps, why not VCR’s, tape recorders, ‘smartphones’, etc….

Anonymous Coward says:


are the people that run flea markets responsible for the bootlegs being sold out of certain booths?

is ebay responsible for counterfeit items being sold?

gun manufacturers know, for a fact, that gun crimes are committed with their products. car manufacturers know their product is used in bank heist getaway cars.

why does every action need someone else, by law, whether they have a badge or not, scrutinizing it or putting it on tape for later review (at their leisure). how is that freedom?

they would like you to believe all file sharing is evil and dangerous and kills puppies and kittens. but that is simply not true.

DannyB (profile) says:


It strikes a nerve because of injustice.

Sony Music makes round plastic CD’s. Lyrics on one of those CD’s told someone to commit murder. Sony Music should be sued.

That argument actually makes more sense than this one. Google has an Android market with apps. Third party makes an ordinary and useful app. App could potentially be used for infringement. Solution? Sue Google, not the developer of the app — and that assumes that the app actually promotes infringement — which should not be assumed given your track record of understanding technology.

Anonymous Coward says:

it’s a bit like claiming Walmart is responsible for secondary infringement because they sell copies of Nero

If they thought they could get away with it, I’m sure they’d try to sue Walmart for something. But even they can’t be that dumb. Granted the entertainment industry drives a pretty good chunk of Walmart’s profits, but I think Walmart drives a much larger chunk of the entertainment industries profits.

tqk says:


It’s not the operating system that is in question …

I don’t understand what you’re saying. Is this in reply to another message which mentioned Microsoft, or are you calling Google an OS?

If the latter, are you a lawyer?

Recent TV ad:

Guy1: “Blah, blah, …”
Guy2: “What’s that Goggle page you’re looking at?”
Guy1: “Uh, that’s Google.”
Guy2: “What’s Google?”

Anonymous Coward says:

The ability for a company to legislate another companies business……….nope nothing wrong with that…….its not like theirs a conflict of interest,
its not like the internet can offer another altrnative media provider,
its not likely possible that someone somewhere, will one day create an internet version equivalent to a content provider with unique posibilities that the internet can potentially afford them……..
nope, i dont see one iota of anti-competive behaviour here, nothing to see here folks, move along, content providers dont think long term, there for, no chance of pre-emptive strikes on companies THEY feel may one day compete with them

R.I.P megaupload
Next target???????????

Anonymous Coward says:

Companies should really be a bit more discerning when they hire lawyers. They’re throwing away way too much money on these “billable hours > common sense” types.

Fire these chumps, and hire some lawyers that are professional enough to do their job right. Everyone’d be better off. (Except the shyster lawyers, but nobody cares about them.)

darryl says:

an industry is not a model.

Who says the entertainment industry can’t embrace new business models?

Yes, who does ??? no one… so what is your point ?

the entertainment industry, is no different than any other industry in progressing with new idea’s and model, and adaptation to changing demographics.

an ‘industry’ is not a model anyway, the petrochemical industry is not a model of how fuels are mined, processed, distributed or sold.

The “music” ‘industry’ is not a model of any specific business, it is the ‘industry’.

I guess you just dont get it !!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

an industry is not a model.

ooohh big word !!!!! I dont know what your name is, it might be Bob !

perhaps you can recomboblulate the issue for us?

it appears, you nor the author (if not you) do not understand very much about how an economy works, or what a business is, or what the difference between an industry and a company.

Would you consider a service station selling petrol in the “entertainment industry”, or a golf club ? or a restaurant ?

Do you know what “disposable income” means ?
Do you know what ‘entertainment’ is ?

do you understand that people use their disposable income to often to provide them with some form of entertainment.

Companies compete for customers disposable income by providing products or services that the consumers are willing to pay for out of their disposable income.

that income, is what you have left from your pay after you pay your bills, buy your food, pay your rent ect. It is what you have left to spend on things YOU want to spend your money on.

you might decide to put that money in the bank and save it, or spend it on a tank of gas for your car, so you can entertain yourself with a long sunday drive in the country.

You might go out to dinner, or buy a book, or buy a CD, or go rollerskating !

If you choose to use your disposable income on entertainment, it does not mean you are going to buy a CD or buy a movie, or go to the flicks. You might equally buy a camera, learn how to use it and entertain yourself in that way.

It is simply stupid, and shows ignorance that you would try to convince any thinking person that the entertainment industry is a limited model industry. and there is a fixed amount of ways for consumers to purchase ‘entertainment’.

How can your local video-ezy rental stall possibly operate with the same ‘model’ as a musician, or an actor, or a servo station ? or a golf course ?

They are all in the business of ‘entertainment’, If those dollars are not spent on buying a movie, it does not mean it is not spent on entertainment.

So as usual, this article starts with a flawed premise, and it just goes downhill from that point.

A part of the process of the development of a business plan (a model for a business), is to define your competition. You would fail (your business management course) if you did not consider all your competition, that is, every other vendor that is trying to acquire your disposable income.

So as an electronics engineer, I compete with the local restaurant, the local golf club, the local video store, the petrol station, the government.

Not just other electronics engineering companies, but I also compete directly with them. Articles such as this one very clealy demonstrate an almost total lack of understanding of even the most basic of economics…

Therefore there is really little point in engaging with your guys in a discussion on these matters, as for that to occur, you would need at the least a basic understanding of markets and economics, which you clearly do not at present posses. or care to learn…

Patrick (profile) says:

Wow, now I don’t feel so bad about not being a finalist in that contest. I entered a paper arguing that music labels should provide legal ways to easily license music for use in online videos, as an alternative to ridiculous copyright filters like YouTube’s. Though I’m generally a good writer and have won other writing competitions in the past, my paper didn’t make the finalists (there were only about 40 entries in the ELI contest this year). I suppose the Grammy Foundation just isn’t interested in hearing proposals for increasing legal access to copyrighted content, rather than just finding new ways to sue…

Astute observer says:

Missing links

Obviously following secondary liability there must be tertiary liability which would be the ISP’s allowing access to google, then off course the power company making all this Internet mess possible, and the government for letting the power company provide such a service. The government is largely owned by Hollywood and the record labels which raises the question of their liability as well and while we’re at it, shouldn’t they start cleaning their act first before suing others….

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

an industry is not a model.

First things first: I wrote this. My name is right up there in the byline, darryl. I get to call you darryl and you can call me Tim. It’s clearly posted and most regular commenters know where to find the name of the author, often before they comment.

If you want to argue about the most minute aspects of the “entertainment industry” in order to avoid talking about the actual post, you’ll need to find someone else to entertain you.

When a room full of lawyers for the “entertainment industry” applauds the idea of suing Google for secondary liability because various apps “facilitate piracy,” it’s highly unlikely that these lawyers are representing the interests of gas stations, restaurants and rollerskating rinks. (Of course, some of these “entertainment” lawyers may do work for ASCAP, BMI, etc., in which case they might perk up their ears at the mention of restaurants and rollerskating rinks, but generally speaking, this isn’t what we’re dealing with here.)

Yes, money spent on entertainment encompasses a whole variety of options, including in-room porn and filling the tank with gas and buying water balloons to drop from the overpass. But a roomful of entertainment lawyers at a Grammy-related event has nothing to do with those other “entertainments” mentioned. You’re simply avoiding the real issue by attempting to attack my presumed lack of knowledge about economics.

This article has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with entertainment lawyers applauding a new way to sue Google. Your comment has next to nothing to do with this post other than the use of the words “entertainment” and “industry.”

Therefore there is really little point in engaging with you in a discussion of this matter, as for that to occur, you would need at the least to address the article itself, which you clearly would rather not…

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