Google Exec: If You Really Want to Kill Piracy, Then Kill the Advertisers Who Support It

The question is whether Google’s response to piracy has become purposely complex, circular, and ultimately damaging to the creative community.

Here’s an interesting statement we found from Google UK compliance manager Theo Bertram while discussing anti-piracy compliance over the summer.

The comments, painfully relevant to a growing debate over ad-supported piracy, came during a BBC discussion with British label group BPI.

“It’s not for Google to go around the web, judging what is or isn’t legal and I don’t think people would want us to.  When people tell us ‘That’s my content on that page,’ we remove the page quickly – we do that nearly 2 million times every month.”

“But our research shows however much you do on filtering or blocking, what is much more effective is to go after the money – to remove the financial underpinnings, the advertising, the payment processes.”

The rest is almost laughingly dysfunctional.  Google follows the DMCA to a tee, but most of the offending content quickly returns.  Google advises companies to attack advertisers, but is oftentimes the one serving the ads.  Indeed, music attorney and longtime Google critic Chris Castle recent outlined a now-mature Google ecosystem in which Google sends traffic to pirate sites, serves the ads on those same sites, then throws lots of lobbying money to protect all the participants involved.  The extent of that ad-serving system is now one part of a research initiative at USC Annenberg.

The assessment may sound cynical to some, though in practice, Google now seems perfectly adept at selective filtering and enforcement.  For example, the company has shown the ability to filter explicit content from both mainline and image search results, and achieved near-perfect scrubbing of YouTube for pornographic content.  Indeed, Google seems perfectly fine with censoring material that could harm its user experience, while remaining perfectly committed to complex takedown procedures for everything else.

Of course, major labels are no angels either.  But it’s become more obvious that attempts to rip down content – through the DMCA or otherwise – are now almost perfectly useless.

 

“Once we’ve told Google 100,000 times that a particular site is illegal, we don’t think that site should be coming above iTunes and Spotify in the results.”

Geoff Taylor, CEO, BPI.

 

40 Responses

  1. Casey

    While this is true, there is no easy way to accomplish this. Display ads are very easy to fill.

    • Visitor

      It is interesting how hard some things are when there is no financial insentive.

      Years ago a team of engineers and code writers were asked to come up with a solution for analyzing, monetizing and reportong traffic data for advertising purposes. I am sure that at the time there was “no easy way to accomplish this.” However, Google somehow mangaged to quickly accomplish it after their accountants told them that it was THE source of revenue that would support youTube and other services.

      If Google’s legal and public policy departments told their execs that their lobbying campaigns have failed, the political opinion machine has failed and we had better come up with a technical solution quick or we will be suffering large legal fees because congress is threatening to change the DMCA, then the solution would not be that hard to accomplish.

      The real question is “Can politicians and public opinion change while Google spends huge somes of money lobbying to keep things the way they are?”

  2. Aaron

    Trade organizations do not dictate what is legal and what isn’t. In Britain and the United States, the courts decide. Google, nor anyone, should make decisions based on a claim by trade organizations (be it the NRA, BPI, IFPI, NEA, IMSTA); except as required by law. A valid DMCA takedown is the mechanism in current law.

    The final quote (out of context admittedly) comes with the assumption that a trade organization has the power to dictate legality. We all know this is a falsehood.

  3. ethicalfan

    Its not just Google that profits from pushing ads to pages that link to pirate content, ISPs also make billions from piracy. ISPs asked congress for a shield from copyright liability and they got it in the DMCA in 1998. Now they abuse the law they asked for and have reneged on their agreement with congress and the American people. US law says that ISPs only have safe harbor from their subscribers illegally distributing content if they have a policy for terminating repeat infringers (17 USC 512 (i). If they were doing this, 42% of all US internet upstream traffic wouldn’t be used to illegally distribute music, movies, games, software and ebooks. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that musicians wages are down 45% since p2p technology arrived. US Home video sales (DVD, BluRay, PayTV, VOD, Streaming) are down 25% to $18.5B in 2011 from $25B in 2006.

    The first BitTorrent search engines debuted in 2004. Recorded music is down worldwide from $27B in 1999 (Napster) to $15B in 2011. Video Game revenue (consoles & PC) is down 13% from 2007. In the meantime US broadband revenues grew from zero to $50B a year in the US with p2p as the killer app that drove broadband adoption. Those are real jobs lost that are not coming back until the public realizes that these are your friends and neighbors whose careers are being destroyed by lack of copyright enforcement. Who is destroying these industries? ISPs who ignore the law 17 USC 512 (i) and do not terminate repeat infringers. US Telecom makes >$400B a year, US creative industries less than <$80B a year. Verizon $120B a year, Electronic Arts $4B, Viacom (CBS, MTV & Paramount Pictures) $14B a year, Warner Music Group $2.4B a year.

    • Casey

      This may come as a shock to people not familiar with how Internet Providers work, but no, they do not profit off of piracy. The LAST thing ISPs want you to do is use their connections. Serious. Especially in the US. Using it means having to upgrade infrastructure. That means lower operating margins. That means unhappy shareholders. Furthermore, Piracy competes with their paid TV offerings. Fact of the matter is, people WILL subscribe regardless of if they can torrent the last Game of Thrones season or Taylor Swift’s album. They need it for work, they need it for legal entertainment, (gaming, Netflix) and they need it for communication. Regardless of piracy, they will continue to subscribe.

      ISPS in the US don’t do anything unless they have to. Even if doing so will save them money in the end.

      • Visitor

        “This may come as a shock to people not familiar with how Internet Providers work, but no, they do not profit off of piracy.”

        Most silly statement in this thread, so far.

        • Casey

          Really? Do you know how the internet works? Do you know how routing protocols work? How Ethernet, Frame Relay, ATM, etc. work? Because I do. Guessing you don’t, otherwise you wouldn’t be laughing.

          • Visitor

            “Really?”

            Yes.

            Last, we evaluated the economic impact of BitTorrent traffic on ISPs’ variable costs. Using inferred business relationships between ISPs, we showed that most BitTorrent traffic flows over cost-freepaths and that it generates substantial revenue potential for many higher tier ISPs.

            Source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/62564312/On-Blind-Mice-and-the-Elephant%E2%88%97

            Ask your ISP why they don’t block organized crime sites — unless they’re forced to do so by law.

            If they’re honest, they’ll tell you what my ISP told me:

            “We would if we could, but we just can’t afford it. Consumers sign up for broadband because of the sites you mention.”

            The good news is that a growing number of ISPs move into the content provider biz these days. Otherwise, 6 strikes would never happen…

          • Casey

            Higher Tier ISPs are Tier1 backhual providers, like Level3. They charge by capacity. Pirated content or not, it doesn’t matter to them. They provide unrestricted, unfiltered content to their customers who are other ISPs. Saying that they profit off of piracy is a far stretch. If all the piracy ended and everyone went to iTunes, the traffic would still exist. Pirated or not, it makes no difference to a tier 1 ISP. Bytes are bytes. Containing illegal information or not.

            That customer service representative was an idiot. If they block access to a so called pirate website, they will get sued and they will lose. It’s that simple. You can’t block legal traffic. All traffic is legal under net neutrality rules until ruled otherwise. Visiting a torrent website is not illegal, because there are legal uses for them. Blocking them at the ISP level IS illegal.

            6 strikes will be interesting. After being delayed and watered down yet again, a lot of ISPs still won’t jump on board. And there are several reports of people planning to sue their ISP upon implimentation.

          • Visitor

            “If they block access to a so called pirate website, they will get sued and they will lose”

            So called? That’s pirate speak, Casey. Nobody takes pirate speak seriously.

            And pardon my French, but who the f*** gave you the idea that ISPs get sued for blocking pirate sites? 🙂

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20026271

            Now, my ISP chooses to break the law by providing access to Pirate Bay as well as to other organized crimes sites — and for that he can be sued…

          • Casey

            That’s not pirate talk. They may be websites used for pirating but if they have other uses then they are not purely pirate websites. Just in the last couple weeks I torrented Mageia. A completely legal use of websites that promote piracy.

            The US law. The article you quoted is under UK jurisdiction. In the US, it is an entirely different ball game.

          • RoyalJam

            Good gravy, what nonsense. If you steal a steak from the store it hardly matters if you paid for the chewing gum at the counter!

            You can ISPeak all you want but in plain English, service providers could do a lot more than they do. Say anything else and you are just part of the problem.

          • Visitor

            “In the US, it is an entirely different ball game.”

            Sorry Casey, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

            American ISPs block criminal sites every single day of the week; they have done so for years, and it’s going to explode now.

            Good luck, if you’re going to sue them… 🙂

          • Casey

            Criminal websites? Other than the select few terrorist and simply illegal porn websites that the Feds force them to block, they block pretty much nothing. They don’t block ANY websites on the basis of stopping piracy. Until a new law is passed, there is no reason to think that will change.

            Why would I sue my ISP? They have provided nothing but great service. They have no intention on ever joining the 6 strikes policy, and even if they did, I don’t pirate. And considerig they are a cooperative, suing them would be rather counter p

    • Casey

      I should add that for Verizon’s ~$120 billion in revenue, the majority of the revenue comes from Wireless and the vast majority of their profit comes from Wireless. So much so that they are abandonind parts of their wired communications network.

      Why is this interesting? Because all your supposed illegal activity happens on the wired side of the communications network. Their wireless network is so heavily capped that it is nearly impossible to pirate content. And nearly no one does as a result. If piracy was profitable for Verizon, they wouldn’t be shutting down their piracy ridden DSL network.

    • Visitor

      So how do you define repeat infringers, anyway? By being convicted in a court of law of infringement, or by their ISP receiving an infringement notice and matching it to their account?

      I can find no definition of what a “repeat infringer” is anywhere.

  4. Visitor

    fuck copyright and fuck patents, although I’m down with attribution.

    You people don’t read your history…

    Why did Germany industrialize so quickly it the 20th cent vs Great Britain, lax copyright law. The pirate bay will never go away and new support models like Flattr are emerging to ensure people get paid at the end of the day; let the dinosaurs die!

    • Visitor

      “The pirate bay will never go away”

      That’s what they said about MegaUpload. 🙂

    • lifer

      Hmmm. Ok, now boys and girls. Would anyone who DOES NOT have a mortgage or student loans or a car payment or kids to put through college raise your hand.

    • Visitor

      We’re a little beyond having to industrialize. The economy of the future is based mostly on IP.

  5. Visitor

    “The question is whether Google’s anti-piracy attitude”

    Google’s anti-piracy attitude? 🙂

    You mean like the Pope’s anti-Christ attitude?

    Here’s what Google suggests when I type Photoshop in YouTube’s search field:

    ‘photoshop cs6 free download’

    Here’s what they suggest when I type Microsoft Word in YouTube’s search field:

    ‘microsoft word 2010 free download full version’

    Nobody on this planet benefits more from piracy than Google.

    • ya

      “You mean like the Pope’s anti-Christ attitude?”


      hahahahahahaha

      Google’s historical stock price increase for extra laughs; i can only speculate what fueled this rise… it’s almost….criminal (laugh)

      http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=GOOG&t=my&l=on&z=l&q=l&c=

      speaking of all this, when are we gonna start suing the companies who run ads on pirate websites? i get the feeling it’s just waiting for someone to step up and start the ball rolling…

      • Visitor

        “when are we gonna start suing the companies who run ads on pirate websites?”

        I don’t know, but I like the word ‘we’.

        SOPA, PIPA and ACTA were killed because the commercial Piracy Industry knows the power of that little word:

        We.

  6. Visitor

    “Google sends traffic to pirate sites, serves the ads on those same sites, then throws lots of lobbying money to protect all the participants involved.”

    That’s obvious, but let’s not forget that Google also uses classic mob methods:

    Back in the Piracy Decade, artists were successfully portrayed as copyright nazis by the Piracy Industry if they tried to protect their property.

    Not knowing that the times have changed, Google continue to issue their Transparency Reports (now ridiculed by the USC Annenberg Advertising Transparency Report).

    The purpose of their ‘reports’ is to terrorize artists and artist organizations in order to prevent them from sending DMCAs by listing their names on sites like:

    http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca512c/notice.cgi?NoticeID=736607

    and:

    http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/removals/copyright/reporters/1594/Recording-Industry-Association-of-America-Inc/

    Unfortunately for Google, the project is backfiring now because everybody’s a content owner today and we’re all busy sending DMCAs 24/7. Result: Nobody cares.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that Google will do everything in and out of court to win their war against art & artists.

  7. Visitor

    …also, even the kids @ torrentfreak.com now agree that Google is Pirate Captain #1.

    “if linking to something is theft then sue Google for millions as they must be the biggest infringer on the planet.”

    Source:

    http://torrentfreak.com/music-industry-threatens-to-bankrupt-pirate-party-members-121215/

    The entire thread is absolute hilarious, btw. Here’s another unforgettable statement:

    I am not a lawyer but I asked a friend who knows one and he kinda agrees with me on that.

  8. JoeVangieri

    Seriously,

    Im the CEO of the largest Karaoke label in the US, Digitrax Karaoke (F/K/A ChartBuster Karaoke). We have over 10,000 karaoke songs with video sync licenses. http://www.KaraokeCloud.com

    Bit torrents and illegal karaoke sites, including YouTube have pirated our content for years. Unfair competition from abroad further hurts both us as a label and the publishers we license from. These re-records do not happen for free. The licenses I pay are certainly not free.

    Google posts ADwords on all of these sites. Where does Google get off saying they cant stop it? They started the fire. Now put it out.

    • Visitor

      “Im the CEO of the largest Karaoke label in the US”

      I hope you’re not a YouTube partner. Google is not known for taking criticism well.

  9. Satan

    Google is the champion at saying and doing anything to protect their interests.

    Any statement they make that says they will implement or support any legal or business action that negatively impacts their revenue stream by even $.01 is a lie.

    They will say “stop the ad revenue stream to pirate sites” (note they don’t want to stop ads on searches for pirate sites) knowing full well that they are bankrolling lobbyists who stand for the exact opposite position.

    • Casey

      Over at trichordist we have a no anonymity policy. On comments. that is you can use a pseudonymn but we have to verify who you are privately. For two reasons: we don’t want discovery motions like DMN suffered. And it gets rid of people like “casey” who serm to be paid sick puppets of technology companies.

      If you’re not a sock puppet casey reveal yourself!!

      • Satan

        Hey fake Casey, or whoever you are, I am not Casey.

        I speak for myself, I don’t represent anyone but myself and I certainly don’t speak through Casey.

        also I never reveal my true name

        trichordist is ostrich dirt

  10. ethicalfan

    “It’s easy to forget that it was the magical beauty of Napster, the then-illegal music-sharing service, that spurred many of us to sign up for DSL and cable broadband connections. Napster’s popularity made it clear for the first time that broadband was a platform, no different than, say, Windows or the PlayStation. That’s because it allowed for new applications to be developed and run on top of it, applications that consumed bandwidth — and in turn, driving demand for even more of it.” – GigaOm

    “Peer-to-peer technology, . . . boosted their business, increasing the demand for broadband and upgraded services” – NYU Law Journal

  11. ethicalfan

    In an April 2012 interview promoting open internet philosophies, Sergey Brin, Google Co-Founder, stated that “If we could wave a magic wand and not be subject to US law, that would be great.” He went on to say, ”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.” We feel that the current lack of walls is the disincentive to buy. We believe that “jumping through hoops” means actually compensating people for their work. We believe that as a direct result, we have the massive decline in revenues in music and home video. Why would someone pay to obtain a product they already possess?

    • Visitor

      “Sergey Brin, Google Co-Founder, stated that “If we could wave a magic wand and not be subject to US law, that would be great.” He went on to say, ”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.””

      My first reaction was: Is he losing it? Not even Mr. Dotcom would be crazy enough say stuff like that.

      My second was: It goes perfectly hand in hand with Eric Schmidt’s statement from 2011:

      “If there is a law that requires DNSs to do X and it’s passed by both houses of congress and signed by the president of the United States and we disagree with it then we would still fight it. [..] If it’s a request the answer is we wouldn’t do it, if it’s a discussion we wouldn’t do it”

      Source:

      I guess every generation has a Howard Hughes, but what have done to deserve two?

      • Versus

        I feel the same way about the line to pay at the grocery store. Why can’t I just grab what I want and walk out? Instead I get arrested.

        We need to get rid of all these artificial barriers to freedom!!

        – V

        • Visitor

          “I feel the same way about the line to pay at the grocery store. Why can’t I just grab what I want and walk out?”

          Yeah, bread and beers wanna be free.

  12. ethicalfan

    In an April 2012 interview promoting open internet philosophies, Sergey Brin, Google Co-Founder, stated that “If we could wave a magic wand and not be subject to US law, that would be great.” He went on to say, ”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.” We feel that the current lack of walls is the disincentive to buy. We believe that “jumping through hoops” means actually compensating people for their work. We believe that as a direct result, we have the massive decline in revenues in music and home video. Why would someone pay to obtain a product they already possess?