Paul McGuinness, U2's manager, ("World's Richest Band Seeks Handout") has been a longtime critic of Google, whose search engine he views as being nothing more than a portal for pirates. That's when he's not blaming pretty much everyone else (ISPs, any tech company connected to the internet in general) for not making U2 incrementally richer. But Google is never far from his mind, not even when accepting an Industry Icon award from Billboard Magazine for his 35 years as the band's manager.
McGuinness (again) thinks he has a quick fix for the piracy problem, and it all revolves around Google.
What needs to be done is simple, take the sites down and keep them down. If the pirates can manage to replace their sites instantly with legions of bots, Google, with their brilliant algorithm engineers can counter it. We need the technology giants like Google to do the things that labels, the publishers, the artists, the writers repeatedly ask them to do. They need to show corporate and social responsibility. Take down the illegal sites, keep them down and clear the way for the legal digital distributors like iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, the new Jimmy Iovine Beats service, which promises to be a very serious competitor.
Yes. It's all so "simple." Just "take sites down" and "keep them down." Like many people who frequently confuse "Google" for "the Internet" (see also: many people
in the UK government
), McGuinness overstates the simplicity of his request while granting powers to Google that it simply doesn't possess.
Let's tackle the "simplicity" aspect first. If
McGuinness is only
referring to delisting sites (and that's somewhat unclear), it's not nearly as easy
as he (or the RIAA, MPAA, UK government) thinks. There are several ways this could go wrong (see also: site blocking/web filters), not the least of which is that it puts internet access in the control of agencies and entities that can't even seem to issue DMCA notices without taking down legitimate content sources
. So, if labels and studios (and those represented by them) can't even send out failure-free DMCA notices, they're hardly in the position to tell a company that indexes millions of sites how "simple" it would be to "block" or "take down" pirate sites.
Then there's what's actually in Google's power to do. McGuinness does mention "algorithms" but shortly thereafter he's deploying wording that sounds suspiciously like a call for Google to take down
sites, as in do a private ICE job
and lock up the domain, thus keeping it out of searches and "clearing the way" for legitimate offerings. That's something Google simply can't do, and even if it could, certainly shouldn't
do. Google's main product is a search engine. It crawls and indexes sites. It is not in the "internet police" business. That's not what it's product is intended to do and that's not what a majority of those using the search engine want Google to be doing.
But the RIAA, MPAA and others insist this is Google's job -- to sniff out infringing content and remove it from the web (or at least, its search results). Google processes millions of DMCA notices per year, but this is always viewed as a sign of failure on the company's part. If it was "better" at the job McGuinness and others think it should
be doing, it wouldn't be receiving so many notices.
Somehow, it always comes back to the claim that Google "owes" millions of content creators something for indexing the web.
I would like to see them open their hearts a little and be more generous to the ecosystem that started their success a few years ago. Google talks a lot about Internet freedom -- that's fine, we all support Internet freedom don't we* -- but let's not confuse freedom of speech with the freedom to steal pirated stuff.
*Note: Paul McGuinness does NOT support
I don't think anyone confuses freedom of speech with piracy, but just like the above situation, it's not nearly as simplistic as McGuinness and others believe it is. Shut down a whole site because it hosts or links to pirated content and you're also shutting down everything that surrounded it, a lot of which greatly resembles "free speech."
McGuinness likely won't be happy until every search engine is completely subverted by IP-heavy industries, but that's apparently acceptable collateral damage if it results in incremental sales increases.