Google Denies Similarities To The Pirate Bay

from the good-luck-with-that dept

There's been a lot of talk recently from supporters of The Pirate Bay about how the ruling against the site is bad news for Google, because that site can be used just like The Pirate Bay -- and plenty of folks have set up custom searches via Google's tools that limit search results to Torrent files. A Google representative from Italy has finally spoken up about this, claiming (as did the entertainment industry at the trial) that Google is different because it actually honors takedown requests, unlike The Pirate Bay, who tends to ridicule takedown requests. It is, in fact, true, that this is a difference, though in real terms in means very little, since content taken down seems to reappear pretty quickly elsewhere. But if that's the only point of differentiation, it raises additional questions of why the law should state that a company in one industry needs to protect the business models of companies in another industry. From a technical perspective, what the two sites do is quite similar: point you to locations where you can find the content you want. Neither breaks copyright law specifically itself.

Some say that Google's willingness to take down links, compared to The Pirate Bay's decision to flaunt them, shows something about intent, and suggests The Pirate Bay team is guilty of some sort of contributory copyright infringement, in "inducing" or encouraging people to break copyright law, but it's quite troubling when someone can be blamed for a crime not for actually committing it, but for producing the technological tools that make the crime possible. What you're left with is a judgment call on intent, and that's particularly troubling when it comes to tools, where part of the interest for the toolmakers is in just enabling technology to do what it can. Suddenly enabling something that disrupts another's business model by creating a more economical and efficient system shouldn't be considered illegal. It's what we normally call progress.

Filed Under: copyright, search engines, torrents
Companies: google, the pirate bay


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  • icon
    Jeffry Houser (profile), 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:07pm

    Accessory to Murder

    I thought that helping out with a crime was a crime in and of itself.

    If someone tells you that they murder someone and you don't call the cops on them don't you become an accessory to the murder?

    Why would music piracy be exempt from that situation? Wouldn't Pirate's By or Google be accessories to the crime?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:14pm

      Re: Accessory to Murder

      A gun manufacturer is not responsible for handgun deaths, they simply make handguns. Thus making a tool available isn't tantamount to aiding and abetting. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that there is precedent for the opposite view.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Willton, 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:41pm

        Re: Re: Accessory to Murder

        A gun manufacturer is not responsible for handgun deaths, they simply make handguns. Thus making a tool available isn't tantamount to aiding and abetting.

        That is true, but if the gun manufacturer receives numerous letters by police authorities and concerned citizens requesting the gun manufacturer to curtail their sales to those who are not allowed to carry guns, and the gun manufacturer then not only does not abide by those requests, but also turns around and republishes those letters in a mocking manner for all the world to see, that would be tantamount to aiding and abetting.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2009 @ 9:59pm

        Re: Re: Accessory to Murder

        I'll say he's wrong. Completely wrong in this case. I'll also see your handgun and raise you an automobile. Should Gm be held accountable for every one of their vehicles used in crime? They should be based on Jeffry's logic as they're providing to tools with which to commit the act...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Matt, 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:29pm

      Re: Accessory to Murder

      you understand nothing. Even piratebay isn't helping a crime. What they have been found guilty of so far, doesn't even fit as assisting in a crime. It's assisting in infringement. Not theft.

      They just host torrents, and refuse to take any down other than what are indeed bad torrents (aka viruses/fakes).

      Why would music piracy be put in that situation? Would playing a song through a speaker (and even profiting off it) truly be something that warrants being arrested/thrown in jail? Punishment fits the crime is an aspect of law.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Jeffry Houser (profile), 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:46pm

        Re: Re: Accessory to Murder

        Infringing isn't a crime? I thought it was.

        I'm not asking what you think the law should be here, nor for your moral stance on the issue. I'm asking for what the current laws state.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Alan, 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:59pm

          Re: Re: Re: Accessory to Murder

          Not sure about the US (where practically everything is becoming a crime these days) but in most of the world infringement is a civil offence where you can be sued by the copyright holder in the civil courts, not tried as a criminal in the criminal courts. Therefore, to be accurate, infringement is NOT a crime.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:45pm

      Re: Accessory to Murder

      If someone tells you that they murder someone and you don't call the cops on them don't you become an accessory to the murder?

      The situation with TPB is more like if someone claims to you that someone else is a murderer, should you go vigilante cop, judge and jury and punish them yourself, or should you leave that up to the real cops?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      DJ, 28 Apr 2009 @ 6:04pm

      Re: Accessory to Murder

      Guns don't kill people,
      I KILL PEOPLE.

      There. By your own estimations, I am an admitted murderer and you are now legally bound to report me to authorities.

      Why are you still sitting there? I just told you that I'm a murderer, and now you are an accessory, right?

      Answer to the rhetoric: NO. Of course not, because you have absolutely nothing to go on. Had I given specifics then there would be something to report, but just a random statement, while the PD will file a report if you wish, they won't investigate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      CleverName, 28 Apr 2009 @ 6:22pm

      Re: Accessory to Murder

      Jeff,

      Are you suggesting that Google should spy on those who use its search engine?

      They probably already do, but that is immaterial to the question.

      I say no, but you are entitled to your own opinion.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jeff Basher, 29 Apr 2009 @ 6:19am

      Re: Accessory to Murder

      >I thought that helping out with a crime was a crime in and of itself.

      Here's a good comparison.

      Guns can be used to murder people. Murder is against the law.

      Pirate Bay was like a website pointing to places where you could buy guns. They sold no guns themselves, only pointed you to places that already sold guns.

      Not only that, but USERS post the gun links. It's not like Pirate Bay is actively posting or policing them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Networker, 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:13pm

    Google is a search engine only

    Google does search. It helps you find what you need whether your are saint or gangster. In that case porn websites should not be indexed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:25pm

      Re: Google is a search engine only

      Networker, the last time I checked, "porn" was not illegal. By your analogy, rope should also be forbidden - since it can be used to hang yourself with.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TheStupidOne, 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:23pm

    How about sports cars

    In a country where few if any speed limits are over 80 mph i don't see why car manufacturers are allowed to make vehicles that go faster than that. Obviously their intent is for people to break the law, why else make their vehicles that powerful. If you are just after the acceleration ability then you can include speed limiters, but a car manufacturer making a car capable of 150 mph clearly intends for its customers to break the law. Sure you could use it for racing, but how many people actually do that with their street cars?

    and in response to the gun manufacturer comment above, there are legal uses of guns, from sport to hunting to defense.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:31pm

      Re: How about sports cars

      TheStupidOne, it is not illegal to drive at speeds over 80mph in the united states... but it is illegal on many PUBLIC ROADS to drive at those speeds.

      By way of your statement, there should be no manufacturing of golf carts, dune-buggies or other recreational vehicles -- since it is illegal to drive them on public roads?? The masses may not do it, but there are times at which availability to the correct tool is the key to getting the job done properly.

      /off-topic

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:50pm

        Re: Re: How about sports cars

        TheStupidOne, it is not illegal to drive at speeds over 80mph in the united states... but it is illegal on many PUBLIC ROADS to drive at those speeds.

        I'm pretty sure he was talking about automobiles that are sold as being street-legal, not off-road.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:36pm

    Oh great...

    ... the car analogies are here. We're only an autobahn away from Godwin's Law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    zcat, 28 Apr 2009 @ 5:45pm

    On the way home for Lunch the radio was talking about the pirate bay cases, and particularly about how some/many artists are saying that the recording industry needs to accept that the music is available for free and that's not going to go away. And they were fine with people downloading their songs. (although I'd guess legally, they probably signed over the rights to their label and can't actually say that... which is a whole other can of worms)

    The artists aren't stupid. They know that 'p2p' and 'youtube' are simply the modern equivalent of 'radio' and 'music videos' -- which of course the RIAA fought against tooth and nail at the time. It turned out those things are actually free advertising which simply helps sell more CDs and the labels even ended up illegally paying radio stations to play more of their music (payola)

    And as has often been mentioned here, artists like NiN and Radiohead are finding that if they allow p2p sharing they can use that to promote sales of the physical 'stamped, printed disk' or special Vinyl pressing, and expand their fanbase who buy tickets to the NIN/JA tour. That's where the real money is!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2009 @ 6:01pm

    The Real Difference

    Google is different because it actually honors takedown requests, unlike The Pirate Bay, who tends to ridicule takedown requests. It is, in fact, true, that this is a difference, though in real terms in means very little, since content taken down seems to reappear pretty quickly elsewhere.

    No, in fact I think that is actually a large part of what this case is really about: their attitude. They weren't really doing anything illegal by Swedish laws, but the judge just didn't like their uppity attitude so he convicted them anyway. That'll teach 'em. Simple.

    Google, on the other hand, knows when to kiss ass. Just ask the Chinese government officials who have Larry Page's and Sergey Brin's lip prints all over their butts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2009 @ 6:26pm

      Re: The Real Difference

      While the attitude is probably why the media industries are so vitriolic about TPB, there's actually a substantive difference too.

      TPB runs trackers, while Google does not. This is much more direct assistance than merely linking to a .torrent is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2009 @ 8:53pm

        Re: Re: The Real Difference

        TPB runs trackers, while Google does not. This is much more direct assistance than merely linking to a .torrent is.

        In that case then, all TPB needs to do is shutdown their trackers and they're good to go! Woo hoo!

        That isn't exactly what the judge said and I sincerely doubt it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2009 @ 6:06pm

    Eggs and Hams..

    All this back and forth, who's right who's wrong? Who really gives a shit.. You can sing til your blue in the face but in the end.. It's all green for $omeone.. (someone other than us..)... I still say we need to get the torches, pitch forks, and start the fires... (God I hope they don't send the FBI to kick in my door for posting that)!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brown, 28 Apr 2009 @ 6:07pm

    I think the most troubling element of the Pirate bay trial is the conviction of the PB team of assisting infringement, based on their 'intent'. While it's true that they ridicule and ignore takedown requests from copyright holders, it's debatable how much that has increased the PB's efficacy as a gateway to torrents, when compared to Google.

    The PB allows users to infringe on copyrights. Of course it does, it's a method of rapidly spreading data amongst a vast group of people. But the fact that the service allows that to happen is being considered 'intent' to CAUSE that to happen. The issue isn't aiding and abetting piracy, but the laughably low legal standard being applied to the proof of 'intent'. The Pirate Bay 'defeat' is not only irrelevant to Internet piracy as a whole, but extremely questionable legally.

    A better analogy is this: the road that goes past my house is very poor. Because I am a weird guy with a lot of money, I pay for it to be upgraded to the same grade as an autobahn. People begin to speed on the stretch of road, because they can now go much faster. The police then charge me with assisting speeding.

    That is what is being done. The PB case is, in a very real sense, an attack upon technology and innovation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2009 @ 6:13pm

    DMCA

    Some say that Google's willingness to take down links, compared to The Pirate Bay's decision to flaunt them,

    That's because the US has the DMCA which requires Google to take down material claimed to be infringing, whereas Sweden has no such law. Big, big difference. Or at least, Sweden had no such law. This Swedish judge seems to have just made one up for Sweden all by himself, and made it retroactive to boot!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jordan, 28 Apr 2009 @ 6:18pm

    Intent?

    I mean I love TPB, but the intent is clearly to encourage piracy...It's the PIRATE bay...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2009 @ 8:33pm

      Re: Intent?

      I mean I love TPB,

      Uh huh, sure.

      but the intent is clearly to encourage piracy...It's the PIRATE bay...

      How about Google's PIRATE search page?
      http://www.google.com/intl/xx-pirate/

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Yeebok (profile), 29 Apr 2009 @ 12:50am

        Re: Re: Intent?

        You may want to compare the "pirate" google page to the normal (in your language) page, and their search results. Then consider it may just be a "language"..

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2009 @ 11:34am

          Re: Re: Re: Intent?

          You may want to compare the "pirate" google page to the normal (in your language) page, and their search results. Then consider it may just be a "language"..

          The language of PIRATES, that is! It's obvious that they are trying to attract pirates with that page. That's all I need to see: Google is guilty of piracy! Send Larry and Sergey to the butt slam motel!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    iAaL, 28 Apr 2009 @ 6:21pm

    you're ALL wrong

    First of all, TPB was convicted under Swedish law, and they have VERY different copyright laws than we do. Under US copyright law, Google likely cannot be convicted of the same crime as TPB, nor could TPB likely be convicted in America under US copyright laws. The DMCA has exemptions for internet services that simply link to possibly infringing content. Google has had to try a very similar issue before, involving copyrighted photos, and they won, because they didn't copy the images on their servers, and the thumbnails they post (image search) are not similar enough to be actionable copying. "intent" really has nothing to do with it under US law.
    There are no provisions in copyright law similar to "aiding and abetting" in criminal law, but there are provisions for secondary liability. These are the theories under which Napster and Grokster were forced to close down. But again, Google would be allowed to take advantage of the DMCA exemption for linking services. It's hard to see how they would even be subject to notice and takedown provisions, as is YouTube, for example, because Google doesn't even host torrent files, and torrent files aren't copyrighted anyway, and can't even be copyrighted in the first place.
    Google's gonna be fine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 28 Apr 2009 @ 7:23pm

    DMCA is USA only

    Again everyone is trying to state that the Pirate Bay ridiculed Take Down Notices. They actually didn't. What they ridiculed was the DMCA's that they received.

    A DMCA is ONLY a legal document within the USA. Because of this sending one to someone based in another jurisdiction (ie: anywhere else in the world) is at best an exercise in futility, at worst - harassment. So ridiculing a legal threatening notice that has no power to do anything other than put a smirk on a solicitors face in any country than the USA is what any reasonable person would (and IMHO should) do.

    If the Copyright license holder wanted allegedly infringing material to be removed they needed to go through due process which includes a nice letter of request explaining it (not a threatening letter), then if that fails, a letter explaining that further action might be taken, then if necessary a trip to the local CIVIL court for an injunction. If that is granted by the court (after right of reply and NOT before like in a DMCA) then the entity (ie: the PB) would be required by LAW to take down the infringing material.

    The ONLY reason Google honour DMCA's is because they MUST! If they were based in another country I can guarantee everyone they would Not honour the take down notices unless it was beneficial to them in some way or required by order of court.

    This is one of the reasons why the US is so anxious to get the ACTA treaty resolved and made legal worldwide. Then Procedural Fairness will not be an issue in the World and everyone will have to honour DMCA style take down notices on threat of CRIMINAL action (not just civil).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tor, 28 Apr 2009 @ 11:26pm

    TPB runs trackers, while Google does not. This is much more direct assistance than merely linking to a .torrent is.

    But if you isolate the tracker there's no way you can know what kind of material you help people share. The tracker only deals with hashsums, so there's no file contents, file names or other meta data flowing through the tracker.

    Brown wrote: The issue isn't aiding and abetting piracy, but the laughably low legal standard being applied to the proof of 'intent'.

    If you know a crime is going on and you are indifferent to the consequences of it then that's proof of intent under Swedish law. Since we don't have any DMCA the law doesn't make it clear whether it's enough to react to abuse reports or if you also need to be proactive. So even if TPB removed torrent files that had been reported one cannot be sure that that would be enough, but at least it would mean that the intent would be slightly harder to prove.

    It's funny that people say Sweden has weak copyright legislation. To me it seems in many ways to be much stricter than that in the US.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      kirillian (profile), 29 Apr 2009 @ 8:20am

      Re:

      @Tor - Darned right in that first point. The second I'm not quite so sure about. As for the second point, it seems that the Swedish judge DID make a rather questionable judgement call - he convicted TPB of a CRIMINAL offense when the prosecution argued a CIVIL case (they did ask for CRIMINAL punishment just like is often attempted in the US). Whether or not TPB could be convicted on intentions doesn't even bother me. What really bothers me is the fact that this trial just seems to be a big sham - and learning that the judge was a board member of a pro-copyright organization (and was active in other organizations of the same leaning) didn't really help my opinion on that...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2009 @ 8:10pm

      Re:

      If you know a crime is going on and you are indifferent to the consequences of it then that's proof of intent under Swedish law.

      What crime are you speaking of?
      Intent to do what?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2009 @ 8:31pm

      Re:


      If you know a crime is going on and you are indifferent to the consequences of it then that's proof of intent under Swedish law.
      Oh really? In that case then the following letter should be enough to put Volvo out of business.

      Dear Volvo,
      It has come to our attention that people are using products manufactured by your company to commit a multitude of crimes, ranging from traffic offenses to robbery, assault and even murder. We are thereby giving you notice under Swedish law of these criminal actions and demanding that you take whatever steps are necessary to prevent your products from being used in this manner or immediately cease production. Your failure to do so will be proof of your intention to help people commit these crimes.
      -

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan, 29 Apr 2009 @ 1:09am

    Manure

    I guess we could outlaw cows also because the manure could be used to fertilize marijuana. The same is true for water. You can use a hammer to build a house or bash a head, this does not make hammers evil.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TPB, 29 Apr 2009 @ 9:53am

    It doesnt matter if the appeal works or not. there are many sites just as good for torrents. I prefer BTjunkie over pirate bay. Its just stupid like when they attacked napster... limewire and others just took its place. The price on digital media should be lowered, then more people would purchase it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2009 @ 8:12pm

      Re:

      It doesnt matter if the appeal works or not. there are many sites just as good for torrents.

      It matters a great deal because of the principle involved.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nononoo, 29 Apr 2009 @ 5:52pm

    Crock

    So gun makers should be liable for all murders because they create the tools to kill?

    Same with car manufacturers. If someone uses a car to provide a get a way vehicle, the car makers are liable.

    Its crap. The Pirate Bay did nothing but create a Torrent specific search engine. More double standards is all I see. If TPB goes down then yes, ALL SEARCH ENGINES SHOULD GO DOWN.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Gorgonzola, 1 May 2009 @ 2:49am

    Crime? What crime? Those old cassettes I recorded from the radio when I was 12 were a crime, then?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2009 @ 7:08pm

      Re:

      Crime? What crime? Those old cassettes I recorded from the radio when I was 12 were a crime, then?

      Yes, you are a criminal. And the company that made the tape recorder is guilty of helping you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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