Google: the pirates' best friend?
Posted on 13 Apr 2012 at 14:13
Google isn’t the only site to receive such takedown requests, but being the dominant search engine, it does seem to attract the most. Twitter, for example, at the time of going to press had received 4,410 takedown requests since November 2010, targeting fewer than a dozen links a day tweeted by users to pirated material.
The scale of notifications Google faces is much bigger: 21,558 in January 2011 alone, and it claims to deal with most within 24 hours.
A Google spokesperson said: “Google respects copyright – and we’ve worked hard to help rights-holders deal with piracy. Last year we took down five million infringing web pages from our search results, and invested more than $60 million in the fight against bad ads.”
Searching for a song
Despite the massive volume of takedowns, Google’s search continues to be flooded with questionable results.
Last year we took down five million infringing web pages from our search results, and invested more than $60 million in the fight against bad ads
The question isn’t how easy it is to find pirated material, but how difficult it is to find legal downloads? At the time of writing, a song called “Twilight” by the band Cover Drive was at the top of BBC Radio 1’s singles chart.
Searching for only those three words – “cover drive twilight” – via Google brought up a series of YouTube videos, the band’s official site, lyrics listings, news and Capital FM on the first page – but no link to download the song, illegally or legally.
However, add the term “download” or “mp3” to the query and the first page is topped by a series of illegitimate download sites, including torrent search tools such as The Pirate Bay.
We tried the same search with the number two and three singles of the week: David Guetta’s “Titanium” and Jessie J’s “Domino”. A similar pattern emerged: very few legal download sites showed up, while many questionable-looking ones did.
The only legal store to make it into the “download” listings was iTunes for Jessie J. Indeed, our searches turned up more DMCA takedown notifications than legal music stores.
In other words, legally questionable torrent and sharing sites are scoring better for those search terms than retail giants such as iTunes, 7digital and Amazon.
Google famously fights to keep details of its algorithm secret – it’s in the middle of a debate with the EU over that very issue – but we do know the basics: pages are ranked partially depending on how many other sites link back to a page.
While there’s a reason to link to a dodgy download site, in order to share it via a forum, Twitter or another website, there’s little reason why anyone should link to the Amazon page selling Jessie J’s latest album.
“If you search for an MP3 download, it isn’t really something that iTunes would come up for, but the MP3 sharing sites do,” says Kevin Gibbons, founder of search marketing agency SEOptimise. “It’s probably a bit of a flaw in its [Google’s] algorithm, as then it’s got sites that are better optimised but perhaps not legal coming in at the top.”
Gibbons suggested legal sites could do a better job of climbing Google’s rankings by targeting the same search terms that illegal download sites favour.
“Amazon and Apple have such strong websites that, if they were targeting those terms, I’d expect to see them at the top,” he says. “The most logical explanation to me is that they’re not using those terms to describe what they’ve got on the website. iTunes lets you download music, but it doesn’t consider it ‘MP3s’, at least in the way that it words things to its customers. Same with Amazon – it lets you download music, but perhaps they need to start using those keywords a bit more effectively on the page.”
Much griping over nothing
Murdoch complaining of losing his monopoly again.
Google is search engine not a provider of music or films it is up to the user to decide which links to click on. So if he clicks on illegal sites its the user that's at fault not Google.
By curiousclive on 14 Apr 2012
Small, and baseless rant.. Sorry
OMG this article annoyed me so much... I feel a rant coming on
Oh and the rights groups don't poor millions into lobbying
Google provides a search of the Internet. Free from any bodies tastes or preferences. Google tries to give you the best results for what you are looking for. It is not its fault that there are sites that have illegal material. The e-crime unit of the police should deal with this not google. If you see a crime, report to police. let's say a theft in a store happened, you don't got to the manager of the store and say why are you allowing this in your store.
God the rights holders are such d***heads. They are still earning millions. They just don't know what to do with it. So they waste it on trying to get even more money.
This take down service would be mis used a lot. And probably already has been.
You say dodgy site, but google does not sit there rampaging through every site for every keyword. They simply have a system. Come on pcpro you know this, you did an article on how google works in your magazines, perhaps it would help if some other people read it too.
Google is not the law. Police is not going to go to your house and say why did you not stop those robbers. No they will not do that. They will investigate. Is the police so undertrained and useless in these technology things. They should be bringing down the people who put up the sites. Not block them in google.
There should be a world wide agreement regarding the website owner disclosure, so that lets say if your website hosts large amount of illegal material, you will be sought after by the law.
There are a lot of SEO optimisation companies out there, that the music industry can use in order to increase visibility. They are able to advertise with google. Simple.
Consumers confused. Of course yes. I would lead you to a nice meme here.
Really. People would go to sites and see a torrent. Download it. Oh wait you need to set up utorrent or equivalent. Doubt this is done by accident.
And so we come to the end of my little rant. Let me get a few things straight. The right holders are fighting a losing battle.
Nobody ever will switch to other search engines.
Music industry must learn, artists are the main component of music, not the company. You just steal money from the artists. That's why everybody hates you and nobody cares
Movie industry. The only thing. I would say now is make more downloadable content in hd. For let's say cinema prices. And I would say you should be Fine.
But you are also fighting a losing fight, free + Almost no threat of police finding you. It is. Crime of opportunity. You know you will get away it's it.
And as times go forward. People will switch to encrypted methods of downloading. And that's it. Nobody will ever get caught this way...
By mobilegnet on 14 Apr 2012
mobilegent: I totally agree with you regarding the movie industry - if they focussed on getting HD movies online and downloadable for cinema type prices (like netflix and lovefilm have begun doing), I think the volume of movie piracy would drop like a stone. Just like anything - if you price it out of the market, nobody buys and people will find cheaper (free) alternatives, but if it is affordable, people won't be arsed to go looking for crappy torrent files that may or may not work...
By spideryman on 15 Apr 2012
are the rights holders going to find the pirates, if they take Google down or stop them reporting links to pirate content?
Oh, I forgot, they aren't interested, Google has lots of money and a registered address, if they go after the pirates, they will shut up shop and move, before the lawyers turn up for a big pay-day, Google can't do that, so they are a big fast scapegoat that the industry can feast off of and prolong their demise, as opposed to actually doing something about solving the problem.
By big_D on 16 Apr 2012
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