by Mike Masnick
Tue, May 10th 2011 10:05pm
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Apr 5th 2011 1:07pm
from the oh-come-on dept
Of course, this is ridiculous for a variety of reasons. Google is not "creating" this content. It's accurately suggesting results based on what users are searching. Clearly, people are searching on this particular individual along with the two terms. That's not Google's fault. Yet Google is liable for it?
One interesting footnote: a part of the reason why the court ruled the way it did was because the court noted that Google already edited autocomplete suggestions for issues related to copyright infringement. Funny. That's exactly the issue we warned about when Google made the silly decision (following pressure from the US government) to start blocking certain keywords from autocomplete. The court seems to see this as proof that Google can and should be responsible for the content in that autocomplete box... Once again, it looks like the company would have been better off not meddling.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 27th 2011 2:08pm
from the bad-idea dept
As we noted when the announcement was made, this is really difficult to do in any reasonable manner. What's "closely associated with piracy," one day becomes a legitimate format the next. Take MP3s for example. Five or six years ago, if Google had made this decision, you would imagine that Google might have decided to block "mp3" from autocomplete -- and yet, now, MP3 is the standard that is used around the world in all sorts of legitimate online music stores, including iTunes and Amazon. We pointed out that blocking things like "bittorrent" or just "torrent" would be a mistake of the same nature -- as it's just a standard that has plenty of legitimate uses, even if it's frequently used for unauthorized copying today.
Unfortunately, whoever was in charge of handling this at Google went for a simplistic sledge hammer approach, with the company now dropping a variety of terms, many of which have perfectly legitimate uses. Many of the choices seem totally arbitrary. As expected, BitTorrent and torrent are now blocked -- despite plenty of legal uses, and the fact that BitTorrent itself is a perfectly legal company with tons of companies using its technology for completely noninfringing purposes. In the TorrentFreak link above, there are reactions from a variety of companies, including BitTorrent Inc., RapidShare and Vodo, who all note that this move appears to hurt their legitimate businesses.
And that's where I wonder if this move will backfire in a big way on Google. While the concept of "search neutrality" may be one of the more ridiculous ideas to come out of Google-haters for years, the fact that the company is now clearly hand-picking "winners and losers" when it comes to searches on these kinds of technologies and services seems like something that will be used as evidence against Google at some point.
Google had a strong defense in the past to complaints of bias, in that it was focused on not meddling with its results. However, while this move doesn't directly mess with the actual results, by mucking with autocomplete, it is likely to have an impact on the kinds of searches that people do, driving them away from many perfectly legitimate solutions, for no reason other than that the company caved to pressure based on no legal rationale. All this really does is now open the door for others to demand that Google adjust its search recommendations and results in their favor as well. I'm really surprised Google would agree to do this in the first place, let alone do it in such a... simplistic and overly broad fashion.