Google Executive: ‘We are Clearly a Company That Fights Piracy on the Internet’

Judging by the presentation Google’s president of southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa did at last week’s CISAC (the International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies) conference in Bratislava, the company’s preferred weapon of defence is denial.

Starting with an announcement that may have come as a surprise to many of the collecting societies, Carlo D’Asaro Biondo declared:

“We are clearly a company that fights piracy on the internet. I don’t think I could’ve said that five years ago, when we were still a young company.”

Expanding on how the internet giant conducts this fight, Biondo pointed to how Google tries to monetise “content”.  In what was perhaps a nod to the privacy issues the company has come across in several European countries (it recently had to pay a $189,225 — a sum equal to the revenue the company made every two minutes last year — for invading the privacy of Germany’s citizens via its Street View project), he continued:

“Knowing what people do and where they go increases the value of the advertising. We can’t afford not to make use of the data – fighting generic use of data is a non-starter.”

Biondo explained that Google doesn’t put advertising in front of user-generated content (UGC) that isn’t professional, as advertisers don’t want their products associated with such content.

This prompted me to ask: if Google can make sure these ads don’t appear on “unprofessional” content, how come its AdSense and Double Click networks serve plenty of ads on pirate sites that peddle unlicensed content?

His response was to flatly deny that they did.  When I told him that there were thousands of examples of this that could be accessed right at this moment, as illustrated by the USC Annenberg Brand Supported Piracy Report, Biondo simply responded: “no, there’s not“.

He finally relented that if, by any chance, some of these ads had “mistakenly” found their way onto such websites, I should email him about it.  Then he handed me his card, concluding: “Mistakes don’t mean ill intentions.”

Some audience members that represented smaller European collecting societies complained that when local labels uploaded their music, YouTube deemed it to be UGC and so prevented them from monetising it.  “Your partner program is poorly implemented – you need people on the ground that understand the market,” said one of them.

Biondo responded: “We’re not that numerous around Europe, but that’s no excuse – here’s my card, contact me.”


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The significant number of lobbyists Google has stationed around Europe, in particular in Brussels, suggests that it may not be for the lack of resources that there isn’t enough staff to deal with local YouTube issues.

A number of eastern European societies wondered when YouTube would launch a local version in their countries so that they could monetise local content through advertising.  Biondo responded that getting all the licenses in place was complicated and takes time.  “We’re pushed to harmonise by the EU, though we prefer not to. When we’ve got agreements in place we localise.”

This statement prompted Croatian Nenad Marcec, the chair of CISAC’s European committee, to intervene: “In Croatia, music licensing is centralised – there’s only one point of licensing – yet when we contact YouTube they tell us they don’t need to sign agreements.”

Like everyone else that had questioned the Google executive’s claims, Marcec was handed a business card and told to contact him.  As he left the conference, he smiled despondently and reflected: “I’ve got a collection now – this is the third business card I’ve received from him.”

(Image: ‘The Odd Couple,’ snapped by cursedthing@flickr (here), licensed under Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.)

29 Responses

  1. Visitor

    “We are clearly a company that fights piracy on the internet”

    • Champion

      YouTube is destroying piracy. Your laughter is hilarious.

      • Visitor

        Here’s another funny thing:
        I googled and binged Ke$ha’s Die Young.
        Bing’s top result: YouTube.
        Google’s top result: mp3skull.
        Fascinating on so many levels, wouldn’t you say?

        • Champion

          It’s fascinating that you’re lying, I guess. The top result on both engines is her official music video for the song on YouTube.

          • Visitor

            Don’t be silly, the results were exactly as described…

          • Champion

            There are plenty of intelligent arguments to be made that back up your position. There’s no need for blatant falsehoods. Here’s a screenshot:
            There are no illegal download links anywhere on the first page.

          • Visitor

            “There are plenty of intelligent arguments”
            So why didn’t you pick one?
            When I tell you Google’s top result was mp3skull, it’s because Google’s top result was mp3skull.
            Get it?
            Now, I don’t doubt your result, but perhaps you should take the time to try Google in a few other countries than your own before you accuse people of lying, OK?

          • Champion

            What Country are you in?
            In the United States, you are a liar :p

          • Visitor

            “What Country are you in?”
            Well, that’s for me to know — but I can tell you this much:
            Google results not only change from area to area, but also from day to day.
            And illegal links normally dissappear within 48 hours.
            Not because Google doesn’t want to break the law, but because right holders have to spend a lot of valuable time sending takedowns every day.

  2. Lie Witness Blues

    This article seriously misses the big point that YouTube has its own copyright law that google created. It’s like a gated community with its own tax, drug, and traffic laws cuz the outside is chaos (genius). Which is the only way to deal with stuypid/dinosaur copyright law anymore,

    • Visitor

      @ Lie Witness Blues

      So companies that are big enough get to make their own laws than? Where do you draw the line?

      Oh, and you might want to look at this, all you per$onal picture$ now belong u$…

      UK.Gov passes Instagram Act: All your pics belong to everyone now (Everyone = Silicon Valley ad platforms tech companies)

      • Lie Witness Blues

        So companies that are big enough get to make their own laws than? Where do you draw the line?
        You draw the line at where it’s legal and copyright laws generally allow the various parties to make their own separate deals if they want. YouTube is making its own micro-copyright system and you’re going see many more doing the same because the laws are all a big mess.

  3. A pissed off guest

    You know what’s sad? At least speaking on behalf of the US songwriters….. our founding fathers WROTE IN OUR CONSTITUTION that we are to protect INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. (written differently but purpose is the same). You mean to tell me that Google/Facebook/YouTube/Spotify/Pandora etc etc…have enough power to change our own CONSTITUTION?? Doubt it. We, as an industry should sue this idiot. “mistakes”? “no ill intention”? What about liability asshole?? How about for the amount of money we songwriters have lost through the years because of your illegal practices? We should stand, unite and sue the living shit out of all of these entities so our starving plethra of songwriters can reclaim some of those many BILLIONS you’ve obviously stolen from us. Lord knows you can afford it! My 2 cents 😉 How about them apples?

    • Casey

      What do Spotify and Pandora have to do with it? I can understand not liking them, but they are both perfectly legal. Songwriters have enough companies to fight, no need to bring in companies that obey the law.

  4. Visitor

    “This prompted me to ask: “If Google can make sure these ads don’t appear on “unprofessional” content, how come its AdSense and Double Click networks serve plenty of ads on pirate sites that peddle unlicensed content?” His response was to flatly deny that they did.”
    Good to know that a few guys have the guts to ask the right questions.

    • Casey

      The problem is there is no easy way for Google to stop infringing websites from using Google’s Adsense. Google doesn’t have the man power to investigate every single service the websites offer, nor can they check up on it on a regular basis. Computers can be easily tricked, so they are of limited use. Google can ban accounts once they find out about it, but a good webadmin can circumvent Google’s attempts. There is money on the line here. Websites that depend on ad revenue will do what it takes to keep the money flowing.

        • Casey

          You can’t simply tell Google “This site is infringing, take care of it” and expect them to take care of it. They have agreements, they have to evaluate if they are infringing and if they are, they can terminate them. But that’s where the fun begins. What’s stopping that website owner from… going to another advertising company? I don’t think you truly realize how easy it is to get advertising on a pirate website. Create a new email account and suddenly you have a new identity. You can create another adsense account.

      • Legal Matters Belong In the Le

        I think DigitalMusicNews might be copyright infringing because I haven’t explictly saw any permission/credits for the image used in the article, which is highly unusal even for a licensed image.
        But much like the guy who compiled that “report”, I’m not a fucking judge so I shouldn’t have the right to unilaterally delist this site from Google because I think it might be infringing someone’s copyrights.

        • Antcipated Reply

          OMFG you TorrentFreak Pirate Terrorist!!! How dare you think the legal system should be used to deal with illegal activity. That makes no f’ing sense!
          Artists and industry-paid professors are fully qualified to judge the legality of a website, since everyone knows that artists are all experts in copyright law.

        • Visitor

          “since everyone knows that artists are all experts in copyright law.”
          This will come as a surprise for you, but professional artists are indeed very familiar with copyright law.

        • Visitor

          “I think DigitalMusicNews might be copyright infringing”
          For once, I have to agree with you.
          But the difference between DMN and Google is that this is a rare exception — usually you see public domain pictures on these pages — while Google’s entire business model is based on infringement and safe harbor abuse.

        • Paul Resnikoff

          You’re right, thanks for calling me (the final editor of this piece) out on this. Typically we credit the image at the end of the article, this time it was omited somehow. So, fixing that now.
          The image, titled ‘The Odd Couple’ was snapped by cursedthing@flickr (here), under Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivs 2.0 Generic. The permission grants commercial reuse (no alterations).

          • Visitor

            I think his point was (and if it wasn’t, it should’ve been) that the photographer doesn’t own the rights. There’s only one place to ask for permission:
            And I’m not trying to be clever here, but there’s one rule of thumb that should never be ignored in the world of copyright law:
            Don’t f*** with the mouse!

  5. wf

    So, did you email him a bunch of examples of Google ads running on pirate sites? I actually laughed out loud at his “no, there’s not”.

  6. AlexB

    It’s great to hear Google take a strong stance opposing piracy on their website, but I hope they’re also realistic about how far they have to go to meet the standard they’re putting on themselves here. I hope Google aggressively pursues anti-piracy policies, it sends a great message to other prominent sites on the internet. But Google can’t deny that these violations are happening, they need to take the lead and set an example as a successful search engine taking a stand against piracy.

  7. Manny Chien

    It’s not just infringing on copyright, ask the Google what about the drug advertising like this:

    That breaks copyright AND advertises illegal drugs. Also violates Google’s plea deal on the get out of jail for $500 million fine for violating the Controlled Substances laws.