Search For Free Downloads Of 'The Interview' Shows How Pointless The MPAA's Anti-Google Strategy Really Is

from the google-is-not-going-to-block-yahoo-and-linkedin dept

A few weeks ago, we wrote about how bizarre it was that the MPAA was so focused on attacking Google and forcing it to take entire sites out of its index when it didn't seem to understand these issues in the slightest. As a part of that, we highlighted how pointless the plan was, because if you looked for a domain after it was removed (which we mocked up by using the "-" modifier), you just ended up getting other people telling you how to get the same kind of content anyway. And yet, the MPAA keeps pushing for Google to further push down or delete entire sites. And, of course, Google continues to give in anyway, giving the industry what it wants. A few months ago it ratcheted up the demotion-for-DMCA-notices aspect of its algorithm, and a bunch of sites have effectively disappeared.

But does it really make a difference? As we discussed, one immediate result of this was that people who were searching for free downloads often came across more sketchy sites (which, perhaps, the MPAA doesn't much care about). But, it's also having a secondary effect -- which is that it's showing how perfectly legitimate websites are also being used to tell people how to access content for free (usually in unauthorized ways).

Take, for example, a Google search for someone who wanted to watch The Interview for free. While many, many people paid to see the film through official channels, lots of others went for the unauthorized versions. But if you do a search on Google, where most sketchy sites have been downvoted, you start to see some interesting things:
If you can't see it, you'll note that many of the links to free (and most likely unauthorized) versions are from well established sites. The top one is to Facebook. The third slot is Linkedin. Towards the bottom is Tumblr. It's very likely that all these links going to infringing/unauthorized copies of the film. Yet they're on popular sites -- the kinds of sites that Google isn't going to suddenly remove from search or seriously downrank due to DMCA notices because -- and, on this, hopefully everyone can agree -- there's an awful lot of perfectly legitimate content on sites like those.

This isn't, of course, to point out how to access that movie for free, but to highlight, yet again, just how completely pointless the MPAA's preferred course of action is. It's as if no one at the MPAA has ever played chess and realized that thinking more than one move ahead might help. Each time the MPAA demands something silly and pointless, it doesn't help because what Google is doing is not "leading people to piracy." It's leading people to what they're looking for. And if what the people are looking for happens to be free copies of movies, then that's what they're going to find eventually. The way to solve that is not to stupidly go after Google and demand it downrank certain sites (which just means others will replace them), but to better offer people what they want from authorized sources so that when people go looking, the content creators and/or copyright holders are the ones who get the benefit.

In other words, just as we've been saying for over a decade, the proper response is to innovate, rather than to sit around and blame everyone else for not protecting your obsolete business model.

Filed Under: copyright, innovation, movies, piracy, search, the interview
Companies: google, mpaa


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 8:14am

    and, on this, hopefully everyone can agree -- there's an awful lot of perfectly legitimate content on sites like those

    Google is the best solid proof that they don't care whether the service is useful and used mostly for legal stuff. In their eyes Google is the villain because a fraction of the searches are intentionally done to get 'infringing' content. Seriously the MAFIAA is a cancer that is killing innovation and our culture.

    but to better offer people what they want from authorized sources so that when people go looking

    That. But even when they try to do the right thing they fail hard. Instead of making the content available via multiple platforms to inspire competition and better services they chose to block the content from people who are doing it right (like Netflix) and selfishly start dozens of different services of questionable quality that people will have to shell extra money, something that is CLEAR most of us don't want to do.

    Also there's the clear fact that you can use copyright for censorship. The Governments noticed it and are already using it in full swing. So between greed and power hungry morons there's little hope this will change without some solid opposition and ugly battles.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:40am

      Re:

      Google is the best solid proof that they don't care whether the service is useful and used mostly for legal stuff. In their eyes Google is the villain because a fraction of the searches are intentionally done to get 'infringing' content.


      That is an excellent point.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 12:14pm

      Re:

      But even when they try to do the right thing they fail hard.

      I'm skeptical that the MAFIAA has ever tried to do the right thing. Most of the time they're being dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era by other companies that are actually interested in developing new technology, and/or fulfilling the market demands that said new technology creates. The MAFIAAs only role is being greedy enough to license their content to the more visionary companies.

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

      • icon
        tqk (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 6:06pm

        Re: Re:

        The MAFIAAs only role is being greedy enough to license their content to the more visionary companies.

        I think that's being way too generous. It appears to me that their only role is to whine, kick, scream and flail while they're beaten off with a cluebat until they're forced to realize that the innovation is making money for them hand over fist. Then, they stalk away having learned nothing, shouting "Let that be a lesson to you, and we'll be watching you! Filthy pirates."

        How Sony manages to not see vast amounts of cash wanting to come their way from streaming after The Interview debacle is a mystery. I have to conclude they're idiot savants, and their primary skill is plugging their ears, closing their eyes, and shouting "Lalalalala!"

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

    • identicon
      Michael, 6 Jan 2015 @ 12:29pm

      Re:

      In their eyes Google is the villain because a fraction of the searches are intentionally done to get 'infringing' content.

      No. In their eyes Google is making more money than they are and needs to be funneling it to them. They don't care who the "villain" is, they just care who has the biggest bank account.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 1:56pm

      Re: very useful for legal purposes

      >Google is the best solid proof that they don't care whether the service is useful and used mostly for legal stuff.

      I believe you're wrong--they DO care that the service is useful and used mostly for legal stuff. THAT'S WHAT THEY HATE MOST OF ALL.

      Just imagine. Someone, somewhere, is using Google to find really neat information/entertainment on the Internet Archive, sharing it with all their friends on Facebook.

      And here the big studios are, with their ginormous promotional/marketing/advertising budgets dedicated to making sure that NONE OF THOSE PEOPLE EVER ACCIDENTALLY SEE/HEAR/LEARN/ENJOY/SHARE ANYTHING WITHOUT CONTRIBUTING TO THEY LIFESTYLE OF THE RICHLY INFAMOUS.

      The crime of illegal content is what they TALK about, sure. But the real problem is the far-more-insidious activity of COMPETING content--unfortunately, not yet a criminal activity despite all their attempts to change the laws.

      Cat movies and osprey selfies. Big-name-university lecturers and enthusiastic hobbiests. Indie bands and non-professional musicians. Sinkholes and meteorites. Video game playthroughs and Commcast customer service recordings. Events of all kinds all over the world, recorded on a billion cellphones. In a word, Human Culture.

      And every second of the time capturing, sharing, and absorbing that content is a second that COULD have been spent working, earning enough money to purchase the kind of toxic waste that the entertainment industry produces and promotes so well.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 4:14pm

        Re: Re: very useful for legal purposes

        You are exactly right. The MPAA not only wants to stop infringement they don't want any competition whatsoever.

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

    • icon
      beltorak (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 9:59pm

      Re:

      > Instead of making the content available via multiple platforms to inspire competition and better services they chose to block the content from people who are doing it right....

      It comes down to a fear that the new tech will cannibalize the existing revenue stream because it provides an alternate. Which is true, it would, in the short term. Even if it would generate massively more revenue in the long run, that doesn't do anything to pad this quarter's earnings statement. I'm pretty sure NetFlix wasn't profitable on day 1. So to satisfy the need to always grow profits in the short term, they will only look at things that immediately add more money to their pockets without shrinking revenue any where else (similar short term thinking was demonstrated by the Verizon FiOS buildout and stall circa 2008).

      a rep from the MPAA.... said [to me]: "When you buy a movie to watch in your living room, we're only selling you the right to see it in your living room. Sending the same show upstairs to watch in your bedroom has value, and if it has value, we should be able to charge money for it."

      - Cory Doctorow

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

      • icon
        tqk (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:29pm

        Re: Re:

        Sending the same show upstairs to watch in your bedroom has value, and if it has value, we should be able to charge money for it.

        I'm sorry you believe that's acceptable. I wanted to pay to see that, but I can certainly find something else to entertain myself. Goodbye.

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

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 9:17am

    This is why I switched to using Bing.

    While "Goliath" is being attacked, Bing delivers the results I want.

    Win-win. >:]

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:03am

      Re:

      Except then you have to use Bing. It's hard to call that a "win". Personally, I prefer DuckDuckGo, which includes Bing results along with those from a few other search engines.

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

    • identicon
      Michael, 6 Jan 2015 @ 12:30pm

      Re:

      What's Bing?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 12:36pm

        Re: Re:

        Not Bong!

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

      • identicon
        Pragmatic, 9 Jan 2015 @ 5:45am

        Re: Re:

        Bing is a rip-off of Google's search engine, but more crap. I keep having to go back to Google when looking for something I want.

        Duckduckgo is okay but not as good as Google.

        I want to leave Google behind as a search option but without a search engine that helps me find what I'm looking for without getting all frustrated after trying under multiple terms with or without quotes before finally giving up and going back to Google yet again...

        Sorry, I lack the patience to put up with inferior search engines.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 9:44am

    The MPAA's entire business model relies on not thinking ahead. They're paid to collect money. If piracy disappeared, they'd have to find a new way to do that. Much like the legacy industries they represent, they're going to continue to milk this one step at a time.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 12:43pm

      Re:

      Actually MPAA needs an external enemy to make money for "opinion work". It is a fight they cannot leave without starting to crumble from the inside. The fight against piracy is and has always been the only thing making them significant.

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

  • identicon
    Agonistes, 6 Jan 2015 @ 9:48am

    Many of those "sketchy sites" to get content like pirated movies, apps and games are orders of magnitude safer to browse than a good deal of the "legitimate" sites.

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

  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 9:48am

    The MPAA will keep going until they have absolute control over all of Google's search results. Google made the mistake of giving them an inch.

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

    • icon
      Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:01am

      Re:

      I still think Google is playing the long game and giving them enough rope to hang themselves (much like what they did with the newspapers in Europe).

      In a few months, or whenever the next thing with copyright big enough to get mass media coverage happens, Google will be able to say "we did everything you wanted, there has been no drop in piracy, so it's not our fault, your business model is just broken."

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

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:07am

        Re: Re:

        But what's Google's endgame, then? Once they've shown that Google is not the cause of piracy, will they undo all the concessions they've made to the major copyright players? That seems very unlikely.

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

        • icon
          jupiterkansas (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:33am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Especially when the MPAA starts screaming that those concessions are their right, and demand they be written into law.

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

        • identicon
          Michael, 6 Jan 2015 @ 12:34pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I would assume that their end-game is iTunes. Google would be perfectly happy to end up the only search company that could afford to keep up with the insane regulation that the music and movie industries are screaming are necessary.

          I think they are taking the long road to a monopoly being handed to them by the very industry that needs their services the most.

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

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 7 Jan 2015 @ 12:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:


            I think they are taking the long road to a monopoly being handed to them by the very industry that needs their services the most.


            Very interesting idea, though I think Amazon and Kindle is a better analogy than iTunes.

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

    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:05am

      Re:

      You would think after the Sony email dumps, Google would not only stop giving them an inch, but would take back a mile.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:05am

    Legitimate content? On Facebook?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:09am

    Has the MPAA considered getting government sanctions against Google?

    Since the MPAA was able to get Obama to put sanctions on North Korea for the Sony hack, maybe they should get him to put sanctions on Google?

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

    • icon
      Haywood (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:46am

      Re: Has the MPAA considered getting government sanctions against Google?

      The cash drop just has to be big enough, we have the best government money can buy.

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

    • icon
      Hephaestus (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 4:00pm

      Re: Has the MPAA considered getting government sanctions against Google?

      Wouldn't it be funny if the next leak from the North Koreans was a hack of the MPAA ...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:48am

    "better offer people what they want from authorized sources"

    LOL

    How could the Interview have been "better offered"? It was on friggin YouTube.

    You understand how ridiculous this statement looks, right?

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:56am

      Re:

      While YouTube is a lot better than what the studios have managed to do on their own, it's not like YouTube is some kind of panacea. It isn't nearly good enough for me, anyway. If I were interested in seeing this movie (I'm not), I certainly wouldn't do it through YouTube.

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

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:58am

      Re:

      If I want to buy a DVD of a movie, I can walk into just about any store that sells DVDs or any website that sells DVDs and buy the movie.

      But if I want to stream a movie, I have to figure out what service is offering it, which may or may not be the service I'm paying a monthly fee for.

      So yes, there are ways to better offer the movie, which is is make it available everywhere and for all time.

      (Not to mention that even on Youtube it was probably region locked so most of the world couldn't see it.)

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 11:45am

        Re: Re:

        You have hit the nail on the head. Something I have been saying for years. With the splintered movie services we have, you would have to have a half dozen subscriptions/memberships to have access to all the movies. This is never going to work. I am not going to pay for multiple streaming services and I doubt most other people will either.

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

    • identicon
      Jim Jones, 6 Jan 2015 @ 12:43pm

      Re:

      While the Interview was available widely in the US, it was unavailable in many (probably all) other countries.
      For example, it could be purchased from iTunes in the US, while it could not in Australia. YouTube blocked the content to Australia, but it played in use US. The only way to get the movie in Australia to date is to pirate it! This is exactly the problem - enforcing stupid regional release restrictions in the modern internet based environment doesn't work.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 1:19pm

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 6th, 2015 @ 10:48am

      The youtube offering did not allow hd viewings on pc. also the wholly artificial "this video not available in your region" crap that came with the digital release

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

    • icon
      Derek Kerton (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 1:20pm

      Re:

      You're only talking about one movie, and one for which their was a North Korean "Fatwah" on theaters that showed it.

      Mike is taking more about the Motion Picture industry's ongoing track record.

      And, in fact, the one movie that you are talking about kind of proves many points Techdirt has made over the years. By offering easier legit access, more people will buy. There will still be piracy, but there will also be more legit online sales.

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

    • identicon
      JEDIDIAH, 6 Jan 2015 @ 3:12pm

      Not that obvious.

      > How could the Interview have been "better offered"? It was on friggin YouTube.

      How does it get to my TV in a way consistent with everything else that I already watch on my TV? This includes things like picture and sound quality and not glitching anytime the Internet hiccups.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 11:15am

    "I have to figure out what service is offering it, which may or may not be the service I'm paying a monthly fee for. "

    Are you suggesting one service should have a monopoly on all content that is streamable?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 11:32am

      Re:

      I think the suggestion is that the content should be available on MANY (well ALL) platforms that offer such service.

      In addition to that, maybe I don't want to use a "service" like Netflix. I want to just download the movie file, transcode it to work on my devices and enjoy it however I want, whenever I want. Today I can accomplish this only by obtaining an illegitimate copy.

      You cannot compete with freedom (to use media wherever/whenever/on whatever) with walled gardens and streaming.

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

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 1:02pm

      Re:

      I'm suggesting that all streaming services should have access to all the content in the same way a retailer has access to all the content.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 11:38am

    He's suggesting it shouldn't take you 20 different sites you have to pay each one to be a member of, in order to find exactly what you are looking for 100% of the time.

    Pirates have the better model as you can usually find what it is you are looking for first time. It will have no region restrictions, no release windows depending on where you live, and no previews to clutter it up. Fast forward will not be disabled.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 11:50am

      Re:

      and most importantly... No price!

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 12:31pm

        Re: Re:

        The ease of copying digital information means that the cost of reproduction, and therefore information itself, is effectively zero.

        However, while information is no longer worth as much as it was a century ago, it's still reasonable to make a profit disseminating it. Steam, for example, provides a safe, reliable, convenient, and ethical way to obtain digital content. The draw there is not the video games (which could be pirated at no cost), but that you can get the games quickly and easily, that you can be certain of getting a genuine/virus-free copy of the game, that you only need to pay once to be able to play the game on all of your compatible devices, and that you are supporting the game's developers.

        Imagine if similar reliability and convenience were available for movies and music. Sadly, that's not likely to happen.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 12:39pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Better than a single service is multiple services covering the same content. If there is only a single service you are replacing one near monopoly supplier of content with another.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 1:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I don't see anyone arguing for a monopoly. The only thing people are attacking is the concept of exclusive deals since that is shifting competition to benefitting the "content creator"-side to the detriment of end users.

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

      • icon
        Derek Kerton (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 1:28pm

        Re: Re:

        "and most importantly... No price!"

        Not for me, at all. The features listed by AC would be worth a premium price to me:

        "no region restrictions, no release windows depending on where you live, and no previews to clutter it up. Fast forward will not be disabled."

        I stopped buying DVDs because most of those features are contrary to what a DVD offers. If Hollywood DVDs had those ease-of-use features, I'd still be buying DVDs at $15 each.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 2:40pm

        Re: Re:

        Odd. The last time I checked my Usenet subscription certainly isn't free, in fact it's only slightly cheaper than services like Netflix. The difference is I have zero day 1080p content available with no region locks or other nonsense.

        I guess the film studios and TV networks don't actually want my money or they'd actually compete.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:27pm

        Re: Re:

        You seem to be intent on trolling your way into the response you want, that being one that fits your belief that anyone who looks for alternatives must be a filthy, cheap pirate.

        Most of my friends don't pirate; they just can't be arsed to go through the rigmarole of subscription services only to be told what they want to see isn't available in our region.

        There's no price to doing without.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 2:54pm

    i read where Google has removed 345million links last year. what i fail to understand, more than anything else is why doesn't anyone ask why there were 345million unliked links in the first place? if the legitimate sites were there instead, there would be no need for 345million links to be removed, as there would be no need for them to exist in the first place!!

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

  • identicon
    Anon, 6 Jan 2015 @ 5:46pm

    Why Doesn't Google Just Pwn These Suckers?

    Google could probably buy outright all the movie studios and record companies (probably out of their petty cash/spare change).

    Obviously this would be monopolistic (but no different from the current situation I guess). Google are not perfect, but I'd prefer them over the MAFIAAA any day...

    It wold be worth it just to see the expressions on the faces of the execs/lawyers when Google announces they're going to purchase Universal, Disney, WB, Sony etc...I'd probably pay to watch that announcement live. :-)

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

  • identicon
    chillinfart, 8 Jan 2015 @ 3:18am

    still not available on my region

    Thanks Sony. You almost made a war only for a stupid trailer.

    The Interview cannot be watched in South America.

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


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