Google ready to help hunt pirates… for a fee

A filmmaker has accused Google of “fencing stolen goods.” It comes after reports that Google wants to charge the music industry for helping it track down online pirates.

CNET reports that the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, and its US counterpart the Recording Industry Association of America, recently wrote to Google asking for more help in finding links pointing to copyright-infringing material.

Google’s James Pond replied (in a letter confirmed as genuine by Google) that there were three categories of access to its web search API (effectively the access point to the data that produces the results). The first two were for companies that display Google ads and for developers.

That left the IFPI and RIAA in a third category, which was a paid option. Pond noted ” I understand we charge a standard rate of $5 per thousand queries, which is charged to recover our costs in providing this service.” Google later stressed that it doesn’t charge for removing links once piracy has been established.

That’s not enough for some in the creative industry. Filmmaker Ellen Seidler told CNET that because video sites that host copyrighted material without permission often display Google ads, “From my point of view, Google fences stolen goods.” (She’s responsible for the clip shown above.)

Though that’s a pretty strained analogy, it’s arguable that Google should refuse to let sites hosting illegal material display ads on its behalf. But when it comes to making life easier for the music industry, it’s at best an ethical argument. When it comes to the law — as it currently stands — Google’s results containing links to sites with pirated music on is simply a reflection of how the internet really is, in much the same way as some of the people whose numbers are listed in the phone book are bank robbers.

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5 Responses to Google ready to help hunt pirates… for a fee

  1. Wow! Google provides ad services and people use otherwise completely legal filesharing sites to host copyrighted material? And Google doesn't switch off their ad services to keep them from showing up there? That outrageous!

    Honestly, in which decade does the video maker live?

  2. Actually, from what I see, S-Link is posting the ads. Wouldn't they be classed as the same utility site as the file locker site? So technically, the link forwarder is the one in business with Google, not the pirate.

  3. Note to self: Never purchase Then Came Lola >_> or anything else from the company that makes it. Keep screwing the people that are completely unable to pay for your movies but wish to support you in other way (like advertising). That's the way to get business

  4. Isn't this argument a bit like trying to get McDonalds to take down a billboard that's hung on the side of a warehouse, which gets used for illegal raves? Because they make money out of the illegal raves …

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