Google Rolls Out New Anti-Piracy Plan

Note to up-and-coming indie bands: do not name your debut album "Torrent"

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On Thursday, Google announced that it would be stepping up its efforts to combat copyright infringement. The company unveiled a four-point plan, to be implemented over the next few months, aimed at making it more difficult for copyright violators to profit from Google services. It's an ambitious proposal, but the tech world is divided over whether all of the measures are good ideas, and whether they'll actually be effective in making Google less pirate-friendly.

  • The New Measures  "We'll act on reliable copyright takedown requests within 24 hours," writes Kent Walker at the Google Public Policy Blog. "We will prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete." Walker also notes that "we will be working with rightsholders to identify, and, when appropriate, expel violators from the AdSense program," and that "we will experiment to make authorised preview content more readily accessible in search results." Walker explains that "these changes build on our continuing efforts, such as Content ID, to give rightsholders choice and control over the use of their content."
  • Might Be Huge, judges Jessica Guynn at the Los Angeles Times. "In what could be a major step for content creators, Google will experiment with making sites with legitimate content easier to find than sites with pirated content. That could be a game changer if Google makes pirated content hard to find on its search engine, the world's largest."
  • Why Now? wonders Matt Rosoff at Business Insider. "The timing of the announcement is a little curious--it's not like there's a sudden burst of newly pirated content showing up on Google or AdSense sites. But Google's facing a new antitrust investigation from the EU, and it needs allies where it can find them. Making nice with big content owners, who have recently accused the company of not doing enough to combat piracy, is a start."
  • Pretty Much Naked Appeasement  Cade Metz at The Register writes that Google "seeks to make nice with the big name record labels, TV networks, and movie studios." But Metz adds that not everyone seems to be thrilled. "'It is encouraging that Google is beginning to respond to our calls to act more responsibly with regard to illegal content,' a BPI spokesman said in a statement sent to The Reg. 'However, this package of measures, while welcome, still ignores the heart of the problem--that Google search overwhelmingly directs consumers looking for music and other digital entertainment to illegal sites. We call on Google to work actively with us to implement a technical solution that points music fans to sites that reward artists and everyone involved in creating music.'"
  • Let's Consider How This Might Play Out  Mike Masnick at Techdirt is skeptical of Google's promise to scrub terms from its Autocomplete "that are closely associated with piracy." Masnick writes that
Google is underplaying just how hard that really is ... and just how much this kind of thing changes over time. For example, five years ago, I would imagine that searches for 'mp3' were mostly about infringing content. But, because of that, over time, the recording industry was forced to adapt and admit that mp3 wasn't evil and was the preferred format. These days, of course, the entertainment industry insists that 'bittorrent' or just 'torrent' is somehow a bad term. But five years from now, that might not be the case. Having Google purposely hide such search results has the potential to distort the market in some ways, and actually delay much needed adaptation by the industry.
  • Band-Aids on a Gunshot Wound  Mashable's Jolie O'Dell shrugs at the news. "To many of us, these anti-piracy actions seem like an ad hoc, punitive solution to a systemic problem: The recording and film industries are still learning how to come to terms with--and make money from--the Internet."

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