If you want to steal a song, Google is an absolutely fantastic place to start. The world of torrents and free mp3s is just a search away, all at a nice price. But is Google really the problem here, or is it merely a symptom of a far broader issue – one created by the entertainment industry? In comments to the Guardian, Google cofounder Sergey Brin firmly blamed media companies for consistently failing to compete with pirated alternatives.
“I haven’t tried it for many years but when you go on a pirate website, you choose what you like; it downloads to the device of your choice and it will just work – and then when you have to jump through all these hoops [to buy legitimate content], the walls created are disincentives for people to buy.”
The comments were part of much larger discussion concerning attacks on an open internet. China, Apple and Facebook all pose serious problems, according to Brin, based on moves to censor, wall, or restrict access. But an open internet is also something the entertainment industry hates, and Google has fought hard against measures like filtering. And, curiously launched Google Music alongside an exceedingly pirate-friendly search engine.
But there’s progress: the music industry has embraced MP3s, licensed YouTube, and even stopped suing file-swappers (imagine), among other steps. But there are still issues tied to pricing, pulldowns on platforms like Spotify, and other consumer-unfriendly gaps. And this is a picture that becomes hideously more complicated with legislative ‘solutions’ like SOPA, gigantic major label licensing issues, and a never-ending litigation train.
“The entertainment industry is shooting itself in the foot, or maybe worse than in the foot…”
The full interview with Brin is here.