Google Finally Gets Involved In Torrent Search Engine Lawsuit... But Just To Reject 'Red Flag' DMCA Violations

from the but-of-course dept

TorrentFreak is noting that Google has, perhaps for the first time, waded into any of the lawsuits concerning torrent search engines, filing an amicus brief in the ongoing IsoHunt appeal. In the past, other torrent search engines have been somewhat upset that Google has stayed quiet, noting that many of the arguments used against them could equally apply to Google. Google, of course, has stayed away because it goes to great lengths these days to avoid any appearance of "supporting piracy."

While TorrentFreak (and IsoHunt) seems surprised or disappointed by Google's actual amicus brief in the IsoHunt case, it's really not surprising. Google's participation here is entirely about the YouTube/Viacom lawsuit and appeal. What was really notable about the original IsoHunt ruling, was that it was the only real legal ruling that said that you could violate the DMCA even in absence of takedown notices. That is, it highlighted the idea of "red flag" awareness of infringement. This was the key issue in the YouTube/Viacom lawsuit. Google argues that as long as YouTube took down any content it received a takedown notice on, it was in compliance and protected by safe harbors. Viacom leaned heavily on the IsoHunt ruling, to claim that the DMCA doesn't just cover takedown notice responses, but also requires a response to "red flag" infringement.

However, Google knows that the IsoHunt ruling is basically the only legal precedent out there that reads the DMCA in this manner. So, from Google's perspective, dumping that reasoning is key. So its amicus brief still argues that IsoHunt is guilty of contributory infringement, a la the Grokster standard, but not because of red flag infringement. So, I don't find it that "unexpected" that Google got involved, or filed the brief that it did. It's focused entirely on its own lawsuit here, and hoping that the appeals court will take away the one serious case that Viacom has in its pocket for the YouTube appeal.

Filed Under: copyright, dmca, red flags, torrents
Companies: google, isohunt, mpaa, viacom, youtube


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2011 @ 6:20am

    Re: Re:

    Google is a huge facilitator of copyright violations, and they know it. Buying YouTube was a perfect fit to their "web view", because they see the web as something you take from and hope nobody ever complains. If they do, try to hide behind section 230 or other protections, and try like hell not to get sued and lose.

    Red Flag rules would make Google's life much more difficult, because once they accept a DMCA which says "this work is not authorized", they might actually have to filter it out of all results. A single DMCA for an image should, as a result, take out all similar images from their image results, example. A file called "newest_movie_title_here.torrent", once DMCA'ed, would also have to have any other page that refers to it removed from their results, in order to avoid providing that same copyright material in another manner.

    Google's problem is that it is unlikely this case gets overturned. Fung sank the ship with his own admissions and his own actions. It is unlikely the courts will change their judgements. It leaves Google sort of holding the bag, with the next Red Flag legal action against them having a much bigger chance of success as a result of the judgements in the IsoHunt case.

    Perfect10s, are you listening?

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