Is Google guilty of enabling piracy?

By Mark Gibbs, Network World |  Networking, Google, piracy

Now, you might think the big search engines aren't knowingly and intentionally enabling access to pirated content, but the reality is that they do know they index pirated content and for them to argue, as they do, "what can we do, there's so much stuff we can't be expected to filter out the bad boys," is simply them asking to not be held accountable.

If you want to see that the major search engines make finding pirated content ridiculously easy just go to Google and search for downloads of the recent movie "Prometheus" excluding the trailers and anything from YouTube (try http://bit.ly/LY4hjY). When I did this I got 13.3 million results, and on the first page every single result linked to pirated content! How hard was that? I didn't even break a sweat.

For any of the search engines to find and remove indexed links to the majority of pirated content sites would be, presumably, to a greater or lesser extent, hard to do and therefore very expensive (as well as sending the search engines headlong into a legal minefield) ... but that's what is at the heart of the matter: money.

Given that both O'Dwyer and Google knowingly index links to sites carrying pirated material and both make money by showing ads, why would Google not be liable while O'Dwyer is?

To prosecute one but not the other would be decidedly unethical if what they are both most definitely doing -- providing links to sites that offer pirated content to make money -- is considered to be a crime. Just because you're one of the biggest and richest companies in the world doesn't absolve you of responsibility if what you're doing is, per se, considered criminal.

One of the first responses on the column was online from reader "Jerry13" who summed up the problem that underlies the whole case:

"This is yet another example of the MPAA/RIAA getting DOJ/ICE to violate the US Constitution and act as their illegal enforcer. [It's] like the Mafia getting the FBI to act as their strong arms in the protection racket. / So far several US appellate courts have ruled that linking is NOT a copyright violation. This is like the Megaupload case -- an example of malicious prosecution. / Copyright is in urgent need of reform. A good free paper is 'The Case for Copyright Reform.'"

The paper Jerry13 recommended was published by Member of the European Parliament Christian Engströ­¼¯a> (who is a member of the Swedish Pirate Party) with support from the Greens-European Free Alliance.


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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