Google, Village Roadshow Weigh In On New Search Blocking Amendments To Australian Copyright Law

from the loaves-of-bread dept

As we’ve been talking about for some time, Australia is set to amend its copyright laws to expand what were site-blocking provisions into search-blocking ones. It’s an odd bit of mission creep, as the copyright industries in Australia have at once praised site-blocking as being very effective at curbing piracy while also insisting that search-blocking needs to be done to curb piracy. Despite this, the amendment appears to have broad government support, with the exception of a few detractors. The Australian government is still taking comments about the proposed changes and Google has decided to wade in. As is typical with Google, the arguments it makes are nuanced and careful, whether you agree with them or not.

While Google supports effective industry led measures to fight piracy, Google does not support the proposed amendments foreshadowed in the Extended Site Blocking Bill,” Google writes.

“In particular, Google opposes Section 115(2B)(a)(ii) and (b)(ii) of the Bill, which would have the effect of removing the direct oversight of the Federal Court over the site blocking process and instead leave it to commercial entities to decide which websites Australian users may access.”

Google also notes that the proposal to extend the Site Blocking Scheme to search engines has not been adopted by any other country in the world. Presumably this is because other countries have long recognized that there is no utility in extending site blocking schemes beyond ISPs to other online service providers,” the company writes.

As TorrentFreak notes, that is only kinda sorta true. Russia has recently put in place a search-blocking policy as well, although it is a voluntary program and Google does not currently participate in it. It is true that codifying search-blocking in the way Australia is seeking has not really been done in the past. Given how fast the process for this amendment has and continues to be, and given its extraordinary nature, it’s not unreasonable for Google to suggest that everyone pump the brakes and study whether or not any of this is actually necessary or will have an impact on the broader piracy problem.

But the real takeaway from Google’s submission and public comments is the detailed, thoughtful analysis in them. Unlike, say, Village Roadshow’s response to Google.

“Google say they are up for the fight against piracy. This is a sham,” writes Village Roadshow CEO Graham Burke.

“There [sic] sole interest is using a treasure trove of stolen movies as part of attracting people to a business model that is strengthened by theft. [Google] auto complete and search are used to steal movies. This is no different from stealing a loaf of bread from a 7-11 store.”

So, we have thoughtful analysis of the new law and the need for caution on the one hand, and accusations of convenience store bread-stealing on the other. Were this a just world, this sort of ham-fisted misstatement of the facts of copyright infringement would be enough to torpedo this law.

Instead, it looks like Google will be ordered by law to keep people from stealing internet bread.


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Companies: google, village roadshow

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Comments on “Google, Village Roadshow Weigh In On New Search Blocking Amendments To Australian Copyright Law”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Remember, everyone: When you steal a loaf of bread from the 7-11, nobody else can access that loaf of bread. The original is no longer available.

When you download a movie, that movie is still able to be accessed by anyone else. The original is still available.

Whatever your thoughts on piracy are, remember this simple fact, and you’ll have a much better understanding of the whole scope of the issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

When you download a movie, that movie is still able to be accessed by anyone else.

The quote’s not even really talking about that. More like "when you run a search engine from which people can locate arbitrary strings, and some pages on the internet contain movie names… something something thieves".

Of course, it goes without saying that there’s no legitimate reason anyone would ever search for a movie name, and therefore autocomplete should never show a movie name… and when discussing theft, pay no attention to the lack of royalties paid by film companies; they’d have paid, had any movie ever been profitable.

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And the corollary:

When you just don’t like someone’s video, and file a DMCA claim against it, that video is not accessible by anyone else, and if it’s the final false strike then not even by the owner.

When teh shroomz tell you that sneaky pirates are hiding everywhere, and everyone is infringing you so you shotgun takedowns to everything that you looked at funny, same as above.

If you want to make a quick and unscrupulous buck, and you claim the monetization of a popular video, the money you get has been deprived from the owner.

Copyfraud is theft.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Plus, there is no easy way to determine whether a movie stream is authorized by the rights owner or not — witness how many times movie and music companies have DMCA’d their own websites.

Suppose I draw a circle on a napkin. I snap a picture of the napkin with my phone and post it to social media. A random passer-by sees the napkin, snaps his own photo and posts it to social media as well.

One picture on social media is a properly licensed and authorized reproduction, the other is piracy. But there is no way for the social media platform or a search engine to know who owns the rights to the image of that napkin until someone registers the rights. And if the passer-by is the first to register, I as the rights owner won’t be allowed to exercise those rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

as the entertainment industries, in particular the movie and record parts, are doing whatever they possibly can, legal or not and true or not, including bribing whoever possible in whichever government in whichever country that is ‘flavor of the month’ at the time, the Internet is going to be taken over by these industries and become a shadow of it’s self, as it is now! and everyone is sitting there saying it wont happen while everyday another step towards achieving it is taken! governments want it to happen so they can stop the ordinary people from finding out what lying, two-faced fuckers they are and what they are up to. at the same time, they are doing whatever so they can know every single thing about all of us and give security forces the powers to arrest, detain, send to trial, convict and sentence as quick as possible, just as happens here!!

ECA (profile) says:

For some..

The RIAA/MPAA/others created something long ago..
And why many DVD’s wont play OUT OF COUNTRY videos/music.

NOW if they used this, it would be interesting…
But it gets worse..ever tried to watch Canadian TV..YOU CANT. for some strange reason there is a restriction.
If i could find out why, I would post it, and complain about that..
Australia, is a major destination, shipping ports and Closer to ASIA/middle east then to other nations.
Restrictions for Copyrights and Movies/music tend to be abit on the hard side. For all the types of Music in that area, and all the movies (even when there are 3-4 versions, different nations change the movies)
ANd there are restrictions for Time of release and even Banned movies..

That One Guy (profile) says:

Not hired for his maturity or honestly, clearly

“There [sic] sole interest is using a treasure trove of stolen movies as part of attracting people to a business model that is strengthened by theft. [Google] auto complete and search are used to steal movies. This is no different from stealing a loaf of bread from a 7-11 store.”

To call their claims here ‘childish’ would be of great disservice to actual children. Making dishonest claims and laughable comparisons just leaves them looking like children throwing a tantrum because the big bad google isn’t bowing to their every whim and they can’t accept any responsibility for their own actions, such that they are forced to construct ludicrous conspiracies about how Google’s sole interest is somehow tied to infringing movies.

The only thing sadder than having someone like that in charge of a group is the fact that apparently the politicians are either monumentally gullible, or corrupt enough to believe him.

Spyder says:

So results will be filtered. Fine, onto Or another search engine out of country. They cannot introduce laws to block those sites (they will try, I can be sure of that).

And this will not stop at piracy. Like all laws the government introduces, they will write in such a way that non-piracy sites will get blocked, such as sites they don’t like (not necessarily illegal, just that they hurt someones feelings). Mission creep always happens in these circumstances. The Meta Data retention laws were put in place for terrorists and paedophiles. Now they are being used for all manner of data access, regardless of whether it is a criminal investigation or not. The just cannot help themselves.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Village Roadshow shocked to discover a large market they have been ignoring for decades!
Not making the content available at any price in the market for years after release & expecting them not to discover other means to obtain the content Village Roadshow refused to release at any price.

Suddenly this market is almost worth paying attention to, but after screwing consumers for such a long time they demand the government fix their failure to understand the concept of selling consumers what they want, and they are shocked just shocked that the genie will not be put back into the bottle.

An industry that has an accounting scheme named after it to minimize the tax it pays, managed to get the government to be at their beck and call… something is wrong there.

Perhaps if they want everyone else to pay the costs to protect their outdated business model they should contribute more to the nations bottom line, rather than pretending movies that made billions at the box office haven’t made anything because piracy stole the money, not accounting tricks.

Rico R. (profile) says:

"A business model strengthened by theft..."?

First off, copying is not theft. But if we live in your disillusioned world for a second, where sneaking bread from a 7-11 into your backpack and walking out of the store without paying is exactly the same as downloading a movie you found on a Torrent site using Google to find it, Google is no more in the pirated movies business than backpack manufacturers are in the shoplifting bread business!

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