How Google Fights Music Online Piracy?

In an effort to make piracy less visible copyright holders are sending dozens of millions of takedown notices to Google every month [1]. On Monday, Google refused to comply with music industry group British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) DMCA notice asking to remove the Pirate Bay’s homepage from its search results. In the past year they’ve asked Google to remove more than 32 million URLs (pretty huge!) [2], and the search engine complied in nearly every instance. As you know, the Pirate Bay is one of the few torrent sites that doesn’t link to any infringing material on its homepage but that doesn’t prevent copyright holders from targeting it [3].

Yesterday, by coincidence (?), Google released a comprehensive report called ‘How Google fights piracy’ detailing all its main efforts to fight copyright infringement/online piracy. Here are few highlights posted on Google Public Policy blog:

  • ‘Better Legal Alternatives: The best way to fight piracy is with better, convenient, legal alternatives. On YouTube and Play, Google is committed to creating those compelling alternatives for users. Each time a music fan chooses YouTube or Play over an unauthorized source, for example, it’s a victory against piracy. And thousands of copyright owners now use Content ID on YouTube to elect to monetize user-generated content on YouTube, rather than take it down, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties from Google each year.
  • Follow the Money: When it comes to rogue sites that specialize in online piracy, other anti-piracy strategies will have limited effect so long as there is money to be made by their operators. As a global leader in online advertising, Google is committed to rooting out and ejecting rogue sites from our advertising services, to ensure that they are not being misused to fund these sites. In 2012, we disabled ad serving to more than 46,000 sites for violating our copyright policies, the vast majority detected through our proactive efforts. We are also working with other leaders in the industry to craft best practices aimed at raising standards across the entire online advertising industry. 
  • Removing Infringing Results from Search: When it comes to Search, Google is a leader in addressing the concerns of copyright owners, responding to more copyright removal notices, and faster, than ever before. During 2012, copyright owners and their agents sent us removal notices for more than 57 million web pages. Our turnaround time on those notices was, on average, less than 6 hours. That’s faster than we managed in 2011, despite a 15-fold increase in the volume of requests’ [4]

And here is the link for the full 25 pages report:

However, it seems that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade organization that represents recording industry distributors in the United States, is not really convinced by Google report [5]: ‘it is increasingly clear we are making insufficient progress against piracy’.

According to the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), ‘global recorded music industry revenues increased by an estimated 0.3 per cent in 2012, the first year of industry growth since 1999, to US$16.5 billion’[6]. In other words, the revenues increased since the creation of Napster, the first peer-to-peer file sharing service that was, according to the US Court of Appeals, facilitating the transfer of copyrighted material (A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc., 239 F.3d 1004 (2001)). 

Although it is great news, online music piracy is still a very sensible and hot issue for U.S Congress.


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