Google Positions Itself as a Leader in Fighting Web Piracy

Company has been taken to task for not doing enough to fight copyright issues

Google is going all-out to change any perception that it is soft on copyright infringement. In a new 25-page report released Tuesday, Google took great pains to describe its anti-piracy solutions and provide statistics quantifying its results.

Google has been called out often by the media and entertainment industries for not doing enough to stop copyrighted infringement. In the White House's annual report on copyright enforcement, search engines were criticized for not doing enough. 

The new report, "How Google fights piracy," is Google's answer to its critics, combining a review of piracy initiatives with policy and advice for content owners struggling to protect their copyright on the Internet. 

No one would argue with Google that the best way to combat rogue sites is to cut off the money, mainly advertising. In 2012, Google said it disabled ad-serving to more than 46,000 sites for violating its copyright policies.

The search giant also reported that it responded to takedown notices from content owners for more than 57 million Web pages with a turnaround time of less than six hours, despite a 15-fold increase in the volume of requests.

Statistics aside, it may not be enough to convince copyright advocates that Google has done all it could.

"Given Google's track record, I've yet to see them actually be proactive with regard to 'fighting' piracy," said Eleanor Seidler, a well-known independent filmmaker. "Over the past few years they've had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the table when it comes to discussions as to how they as a company enable, encourage and profit from online piracy. It seems some progress has been made, but there's much more that could be done."

Search engines, however, are limited in what they can do to stop piracy, Google explained in its report.

"Several notorious sites have said publicly that they don't need search engines, as their users find them through social networks, word of mouth and other mechanisms," the company said.

What's more, search engines can't eradicate pirate sites because offending sites can simply pick up and move elsewhere. "There are more than 60 trillion addresses on the Web," Google explained.

Google's advice for the best way to combat piracy? Content owners should provide "better, more convenient, legitimate alternatives."

"Google has been at the forefront of creating new, authorized ways for consumers to obtain digital content," Google said. "We build platforms where our users can legitimately purchase, consume and discover entertainment and culture. We also pioneer innovative new approaches to monetizing online media."

The Motion Picture Association of America, which recently launched to help people find legal content on the Internet, said Google has it half right.

"What's missing from this report, though, is an acknowledgment of Google’s responsibility as the major gatekeeper of the Internet. No one is suggesting that Google alone can stop piracy, but Google can and should play a more constructive role in directing consumers to legal content. We look forward to continuing to work with Google to develop better ways to protect creators and provide audiences with the shows and movies they love," said Kate Bedingfield, an MPAA spokesperson.


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