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’.


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.

How about Yahoo?

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.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: google

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Head Of British Rights Group: Piracy Is Google's Fault Even If It's Not Actually Google's Fault”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
That One Guy (profile) says:

"Tell you what, let's compromise: We'll do things my way."

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.

Government/Industry reps: We want you to do B.

Google: We’re already doing A at your request, and it’s costing us significant time and money while accomplishing little. B is just A on steroids, and will not only cost us even more, it’s likely to have a negligible effect on the problem you want while having significant negative side-effects. You know you could actually go after the sites directly, rather than coming to us, right?

Government/Industry reps: You make some good points. In light of that, we want you to know that right now we’re asking you to do B, but if you decide not to be ‘cooperative’ we may have to change the laws so that you have no other choice in the matter…

Google: … you didn’t listen to a single thing I just said did you?

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: If you don't understand the internet

They know the internet. The problem the recognize is that is a large and expensive effort to police the internet. So they want someone else to do it for them. For free.

And it’s even more expensive to have actual due process. Let alone actually go after the sites hosting the infringing content. So they’ll just go after only one of several search engines instead.

And then each time they make record breaking profits, they’ll whine about how piracy is destroying their business. As artists receive little to nothing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: If you don't understand the internet

No, they don’t. This ia abundantly clear from literally every single action that agency has taken in the last fifteen years.

Moreover, the BPI actively steals from smaller artists to give to the largest artists, by (intentionally or otherwise) earmarking profits from civil suits and licences to the major labels, and claiming to represent artists with its performance licences, in spite of those same artists that the BPI claimed to be requiring the licences for never being registered with the BPI.


Preferred vendors?

What I don’t get is why should Google provide free adverting for a select list of industry approved wannabe monopolists? Why should Google send people to iTunes? That’s not how Google is supposed to work. That kind of “sponsored” nonsense is the antithesis of what makes Google useful.

Anonymous Coward says:

Maybe Google should try the Belgium solution to this business. Belgium got a law passed that parts of news linked by Google required Google to pay the source site. Google obeyed the law by disconnecting these news sites from search.

Take all these entertainment industries and remove all links to legal sites so that they get the hint it’s their problem as long as they can’t actually list for the public what they own in a searchable database.

Anonymous Coward says:

so what does this fucking dick brain want to happen? if it’s to stop google from existing, go for it. if he succeeds, does he think that copyright infringement, even search results from other engines, will magically stop showing them? all this idiot, like so many others in his profession, wants to do is blame anyone and everyone so as to not have to do anything himself/themselves! and, as i’ve said many times, it would be another major step in the direction the entertainment industries keep taking, another step nearer to what the aim has been all along, stop everyone from using the internet unless the industries give permission and are paid for doing so!! dont believe? getting closer every day!!

Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

So Let’s see Hollywood went and bought Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood to use his office and it’s powers to Investigate Google and try and force Google to do what Hollywood wanted…and then that blew up in Hollywood’s face big time.

So having no luck using Hood here in the U.S. and Google dragging the MPAA and Hood thru the courts all while leaving them bruised and battered, Hollywood still learned nothing from the events that have unfolded thus far.

So In Hollywood’s wisdom they have decided to use their BPI pals and the bought & paid for UK Government to go after Google their because their efforts blew up in their faces in the U.S.

Once again you have private companies who are buying Governments and getting said Governments to do what it never ever could thru civil litigation or even negotiation. Yet Hollywood once again will use Governments to see that their profits are maintained and they still seek to control how, where, when and how much you pay to see their music or movies.

Hollywood still reminisces for the days when they controlled, distributed, and manufactured the supply of music and media to the public and those fat profits they made doing so. Hollywood hates that you can have the option to see the movies/music thru other methods, they hate that you can get around their restrictions on when , where and how much.

Hollywood will never ever change their message or come around to letting the people get the media/movies they want without region restrictions and fair prices, so they will stoop once again to let their bought and paid for Goverment’s do what they can not and have been unwilling to do with Google.

It’s Hollywood’s way or nothing

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The actual problem is the old men in charge believe a few things that everyone else knows aren’t true.

Google is the Internet.
explains itself.

Google makes money by taking what we used to make!
They are jealous that Google is making money on this new technology fad that all the kids are using. Ignoring that it is their own deals & outdated business models that cost them money, they see the Google income as coming from the single pot of cash in the world. If Google is making more, it must be coming from their share.

The law must punish them because we said so!
While they keep wasting time & money buying politicians they apparently aren’t looking at the returns on those ‘investments’. For every cent they spend, they only serve to harm themselves more. Propping up a dying business model at the expense of society is going to reach a point where the backlash will be felt for decades.

One wonders how many of their losses can be tracked to their failure to adapt, and how much cash they pour into the sinkhole of we can fix it charlatans who claim they can fix the problem, but if they do they stop earning money. Perhaps paying someone lots of money to put themselves out of a job doesn’t make lots of sense.

They scream that the sky is falling every 3 days, how there will be nothing new created & how artists aren’t being paid. Someone show me all of the labels that have failed. They don’t exist, even in the midst of record profits, they still scream how broke they are.

They are repeating the stupid war they wage on every new technology, holding back society to protect old men from their imaginary boogeymen… yet once they give in and embrace the new technology suddenly they start making more money than before. Its time to stop listening to the dinosaurs, stop letting them blame the world for changing, and stop rewarding them with veto power over the world. Their time is over, and as with all things…. adapt or die off.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Corporate Welfare?

Actually, “Taxpayers,” yankinwaoz is correct. It’s just that they’re not getting the cash directly, our hard-earned money is being spent on failed anti-piracy measures to aid individuals and groups who a) don’t always pay their share of tax over here and b) can’t be bothered to address the market instead of attempting to control it.

This is, in effect, an indirect subsidy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Still waiting...

…for Google to start buying up the failing music labels. They have the money to wage a serious war against groups like this and free the internet instead of pandering to their wishes.
The BPI has a job to do… provide the world with all the best music, but they fail at that every day. All they care about is mediocre crap, that some teenager will buy that lines their pockets.
Google has a job to do… provide people with what they are looking for.
If the BPI (and the labels they represent) would do their job right, Google could do their job right without any conflict.
It’s long past time for the music industry to stop throwing away all it’s money on anti-piracy efforts and use that money to innovate, and engage people (consumers) in a more friendly, positive way to make the world of music a better world for everyone. Lawsuits, settlement demands, 3-strikes, and stupid educational programs are all the wrong way to go about this. The “carrot and the stick” approach has failed miserably for more than a decade. “Cake and beer” would be a better approach. Start giving the people what they have been asking for all this time!!! A decent online place for people to get the music they want at a fair price. All of Mp3 was the perfect model.

jameshogg says:

You would think that with a procedure that notices a website to take down content, that they would actually go to the website itself and send that notice to take down the content. That way it becomes irrelevant if Google links to it or not since there’s no longer any content to direct to.

But no, apparently we need to keep on whacking the mole that simply tells people that site and the content is there instead of the content itself, as if that will somehow magically make everyone forget that it’s there.

When I say “The Pirate Bay” I’ve just linked someone to the Pirate Bay. Because then they’ll go research the site, it’s domain name, etc etc. Which is no different from an actual URL or a URL to a URL, because a URL is just words and letters too.

The logical conclusion of this is that everybody should be forbidden from talking about the Pirate Bay whatsoever. Because to talk about it is to link someone to it.

John85851 (profile) says:

Well, obviously removing the index removes the content

Why are we surprised that British politicians think Google is the Internet? After all, this is the country that created the “right to be forgotten” by getting Google to remove a link. So what if the original story is still on the original website and so what if every other search engine can find it- if it’s not listed on Google, then it must be gone from the Internet.

What makes people think this way? Why do they not realize that Google is like the card catalog in the library and removing the card from the catalog doesn’t mean the content is removed from the library shelves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well, obviously removing the index removes the content

Taking bets the British Prime Minister will be dribbling at the mouth for google takedowns.

He’s involved in the Panama Papers under various aliases and has been dodging pay tax on MILLIONS earned by illegally giving himself lucrative government contracts.

Anonymous Coward says:

I have zero problem with google being forced to take down a search result, PROVIDED that if the takedown is found to be false, the INDIVIDUAL responsible must pay google $500,000 per error AND pay $500,000 to the person who owns the taken down site.

The individual responsible would be determined as: the highest ranking person in the company that made the false request OR the largest shareholder.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...