Head Of British Rights Group: Piracy Is Google's Fault Even If It's Not Actually Google's Fault
from the you-shall-know-the-truth-and-the-truth-shall-make-you-unintelligible dept
As the DMCA heads towards possible reform, critics on both sides have been airing their complaints with the current system. For far too many people, though, the problem is apparently Google, rather than the law or the DMCA process itself. Rights holder groups have been especially vocal about Google’s supposed participation in copyright infringement, despite the fact it processes tens of millions of DMCA takedown notices every day.
This is a lot of work and it’s being done by Google to handle DMCA complaints about content it’s not even hosting. To make rights holders happy (except that many of them are not), Google delists millions of URLs every day. It also vets each DMCA notice to make sure the URLs should actually be delisted. The rise of bot-generated DMCA takedown notices has increased the workload as well as the likelihood of error. It’s an ugly process all around and the law itself is in need of some serious repairs.
But Google is the villain. Even when it points out its tenuous “connection” to pirated content, rights holders (or at least their reps) are having none of it. Ben Challis at the 1709 Blog points out that a British rights holder group is still mistaking “Google” for “sites actually hosting infringing content.”
Across the pond over the Easter weekend, the UK’s BPI issued its 200 millionth take down request to Google – every one, it says, targeting a searchable link which infringed on an owned copyright. As a result, BPI CEO Geoff Taylor publicly called on Google to change its infringement policy to ‘notice and stay down’; effectively ensuring that any infringing link removed from Google’s search results doesn’t then creep its way back online.
There are multiple reasons notice and stay down won’t work, and this number increases when you ask a third party to somehow prevent the rehosting of infringing content at sites it can’t control. The people who believe “Google” and “The Internet” are interchangeable words see no problem with ordering a search engine to somehow determine the legality of content stored at sites it has no involvement with other than indexing it for search results.
But heads of rights groups insist this is a Google problem, even when Google’s “contribution” to online piracy is only a very small part of the whole.
Google responded by telling MBW that it had already tweaked its algorithm to demote infringing sites, and that it had actually reviewed more than 80m links to pirated content in the past month alone. Google then added “Search is not the primary problem – all traffic from major search engines accounts for less than 16% of traffic to sites like The Pirate Bay…”
As has often been noted, Googling for infringing content is actually an outlier activity. There are far more efficient ways to find infringing content than going through the world’s largest search engine. (Also: Google says “all major search engines,” which is far more generous to the also-rans than rights holder groups. Google is targeted in 99.8% of DMCA takedown requests, according to numbers pulled from the Lumen database. Other search engines — despite crawling the same ‘net territory — see far fewer DMCA notices and have done far less to tailor search results to please entities like the RIAA, MPAA, etc.)
But the head of BPI — Geoff Taylor — won’t be easily dissuaded by logic or facts. It’s all Google’s fault.
“It is disappointing that Google continues to downplay the role its search engine plays in guiding millions of consumers to illegal sites.”
Taylor then goes on to ask why Google is spending more time developing driverless cars than giving BPI the version of The Internet it desires.
A company that can 3D map the world and create driverless cars could easily apply its incredible resources to present search users with genuine sites like Apple Music or Spotify, instead of illegal sites like“free-MP3-music.download” – the very first result when I searched today for ‘Zayn download’.
ALL GOOGLE’S FAULT.
Maybe Taylor should try another search engine. Google’s obviously the “piracy” search engine. Let’s check Bing.
Three of the first five results appear to lead to infringing content. I guess that’s better than Google.
Huh. iTunes doesn’t even appear until the fourth listing, behind three shadier links.
Meanwhile, Google’s search results are roughly on par with the other two search engines, but also adds links up top to four legitimate streaming sites — including Spotify, like the BPI head suggested. Even if you believe YouTube is just another word for nothing left to infringe, the link provided takes you to Zayn Malik’s official YouTube channel.
Now, BPI may feel no one uses those other search engines, so they’re not worthy of attention. But by ignoring them, he’s overlooking the fact that other search engines are no better at filtering out “pirate” links than Google, but somehow it’s always Google that needs to do better or face severe consequences, as Taylor suggests here.
The [UK] Government has tried to facilitate a cooperative solution but it’s becoming clear after years of voluntary talks that stronger Government action will be needed to fulfil its manifesto commitment to tackle this problem.
Like far too many misguided litigants, Taylor wants to hold the biggest, easiest-to-reach target accountable for the actions of other sites — and the users who have actually made infringing content available. Google is at least twice-removed from the actual infringement and — despite reviewing millions of takedown notices every day — is still the target of legacy industry groups and rights holder associations like BPI.