Let’s Face It: Google’s Still a Piracy Whorehouse. It’s Just Getting Cleaned Up a Little

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Good news: Google is now responding to takedown requests within 24 hours.

But what was it before?  48 hours?  72?  24 days?  It’s always nice when a multi-billionaire reaches out to the little guy, but let’s not pretend this is a huge sea-change.  It’s still the same hassle to get content removed, just a little bit less of a migraine.

Are you a significant content owner?  Then unauthorized links to your catalog are probably on Google results right now, and probably right at the top.  So what happens after Google takes this down within a 24 hour window?

The answer: you’re right back to where you started.  Playing full-time copyright cop, not innovative content creator.  Do you really have the resources to do this?  Even the largest companies – like Warner Music Group – can’t keep up.  So who says your indie has even a fighting chance?

But wait: why blame Google for this mess?  Google is a search engine after all, not a police station, and they’re mostly playing within the DMCA rules.  Indeed, there’s a lot to that counterargument, except that the best possible place to start searching for pirated content is Google – not the Pirate Bay, not LimeWire Pirate Edition, not RapGodfathers.

And this will do little to change that, unless the ground rules themselves change.  Google said it themselves: there are over one trillion unique urls out there right now.  And that will be a multi-trillion number soon enough, a situation that almost guarantees the presence of more illegal content.

So, solutions?  Skip the overly tech-friendly arguments for one second, and you’ll realize that content is still getting paid for, at handsome valuations.  It’s just that the toll collectors are now somewhere else!  That’s Google, ISPs, and Apple, among others.

Consumers still want this content – in fact, the appetite has only multiplied.  But does it make sense that the creators of this content are missing out on most of the action, and being forced to patrol violations non-stop?

Looks like an entirely new approach is needed, and this is a complicated debate indeed.  But one thing’s for sure: this is one problem that can’t be solved in 24 hours.

Paul Resnikoff, publisher.  Written while listening to Classical KUSC.