Google’s Amazingly Simple Plan to Destroy Piracy Forever

Google's Piracy Free Future!
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Google's Piracy Free Future!
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photo: Poorlove (CC0)

The music industry has spent two decades smashing cockroaches with sledgehammers.  Now, Google has a simpler way to clean up the kitchen.

Google is the devil.  And so is YouTube.  Because, a bunch of music industry executives told me that.

And hey, they have a point: Google exploits more loopholes than a Bahamian tax shelter while drawing billions in advertising income from free content.  They’ll outsmart you with doublespeak and pay your local Congressman to keep playing music videos at a criminal rate.  All the while dragging industry-paying competitors like Spotify into reckless financial disarray.

It’s the laughably hypocritical ‘don’t be evil’ thing.  And if it’s your music content, it’s not really so laughable.

But while industry execs scream bloody murder at YouTube, there’s a strange silver lining here.  Torrenting is slowly dying.  Sure, more people are on the internet than ever before, and piracy has been buoyed by more people.  But the surge of YouTube has helped to draw more people away from piracy platforms.  In fact, a lot of music executives now regard piracy as a pesky problem, not the bane of their existence.

Now, Google has a simple idea for crushing the life out of torrenting.  And the music industry would be wise to play along.

You see, the one thing that really keeps piracy going is simple: money.  It starts with people who don’t want to spend money on music.  They create the demand.  And it ends with advertisers who are willing to pay money to get in front of those people.  Or, drop pernicious cookies and malware to track and trick those people.

The music industry has a name for the people that run these sites: criminals.  But criminals or not, they have their own black market economy.  And many people have gotten rich in these markets.

But what if those low-rent ads and malware dried up?  Well, so would a major source of revenue for piracy hubs.  Enter Google’s plan to completely update its Chrome browser with a built-in ad blocker.  Suddenly, you have torrent site operators freaking out — and saying it out loud.

The new Chrome will have a totally different approach to ad blocking.

Instead of wiping out all ads, Google will permit the good ads and block the bad ones.  So, ‘good actors’ (like yours truly Digital Music News) can keep going about their business with higher-paying, respectful ads.  Lower-end torrent sites like the Pirate Bay will lose 90% of theirs.  The latter dries up from lack of advertising revenue.

See how this works?

Actually, the plan works more brilliantly than you might imagine.  Because for news sites and other online publications, ad blocking has the potential to decimate revenues.  But most people don’t mind a few ads, they just hate in-your-face, extremely annoying and noisy ads.  Not to mention malware.

The better plan is to keep some ads.  Specifically, the good ones.  Then everyone’s happy: sites, advertisers, and readers.  The bottom-feeders and crap ads don’t get to kill the party anymore.

And they can’t fuel the piracy black market, either.

Google Senior Vice President Sridhar Ramaswamy broke this logic down:

The reality is, it’s far too common that people encounter annoying, intrusive ads on the web — like the kind that blare music unexpectedly, or force you to wait 10 seconds before you can see the content on the page.  These frustrating experiences can lead some people to block all ads — taking a big toll on the content creators, journalists, web developers and videographers who depend on ads to fund their content creation.

There’s only one problem.  There’s a small army lining up to defeat Google’s new plan.  And the reason is that an ad-blocking browser gives Google way too much power.  It’s kind of like this: Google delivers the ads through its own exchange, then determines which other ads and exchanges are okay to run.

You see the problem.

Actually, Google says it’s not the sole arbiter of what gets blocked.  Instead, the company is part of a consortium called the Coalition for Better Ads.  Whether that’s merely a convenient Google alter-ego is hard to tell, though critics decry the dense over-concentration of power.

And chances are, there’s another power-play going on.  Sounds like a fight ripe for some over-regulating EU officials.

But sometimes markets actually benefit by having a strong, dominant company.  It’s like a benevolent dictator to calm the capitalistic infighting.

It was true with Microsoft, who helped to create standards around applications and OS interoperability in the 90s.  And it’s true for things like browsers, automobiles, streaming platforms, and mobile phones.

You don’t want 100 options, especially if they’re not compatible!

In the case of Google’s Chrome, a concentrated standards-setting company introduces far more benefit than harm.  It cleans up piracy, makes the web easier to navigate, and reduces malware and viruses.  It makes the world better!

And for all the evil complexities that Google presents to the music industry, this isn’t one of them.  Because decimating piracy drives more people into trackable, controllable environments.  And it potentially reduces a multi-decades problem into a marginal one.

The music industry has 99 problems.  What if piracy wasn’t one of them?


22 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    “Google’s Amazingly Simple Plan to Destroy Piracy Forever”

    You can repeat this as often as you wish, but that doesn’t make it true.

    If Google wanted to destroy piracy, they could stop linking to openly criminal sites and end the whole thing today. But that’ll never happen.

    Again, what they’re doing here is taking a bigger slice of the advertising pie, that’s all.

  2. Dzny

    Yes, but with a 3rd party app it’s child’s play to download thousands of songs in one CLICK from youtube, all metatagged and delivered to your iTunes.

  3. Rick Shaw

    This, coming from one of the biggest piracy tools on the Internet

  4. Anonymous

    I think Paul has the right idea. The best way to shut down torrent sites is to cut off their ad revenue, since attempts to shut them down directly have thus far failed. I’m not convinced adding an ad-blocker to Chrome alone will suffice though. Pirates who want to ensure torrent sites stay afloat can simply turn the ad-blocker off, right? We really need some sort of enforceable legislation from multiple countries forbidding advertisers from advertising on such sites. I would imagine that’s probably easier said than done, but it does seem like something that can be done.

    Torrents are only one small part of the problem. The bigger problem is YouTube and other UGC services. Anything posted to YouTube can and will be stream-ripped. That we can’t fix. What we need to fix is the DMCA. ContentID needs to be available to all copyright owners, big and small. YouTube has tremendous promotional value, just like MTV did back in the day. But if copyright owners can’t control when their content is posted to YouTube, then YouTube needs to be shut down.

    Once that’s done, the next step will be to place severe limitations on Spotify’s free tier. Interactive streaming should not be ad-supported. It needs to be time-limited, content-limited, limits on how many songs are kept in a user’s playlist and/or non-interactive in nature. This falls to the labels to force their hand.

    Finally, services must be forced to only make available content in which all rights (including publishing) are licensed. This is the easy part, and is already underway.

    There’s our roadmap. We figure out all these things, we’ll be in good shape.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      “The bigger problem is YouTube and other UGC services. Anything posted to YouTube can and will be stream-ripped. That we can’t fix.”

      Is it even a problem? I think it’s a made-up problem, because YouTube could render every YouTube stream-ripper inoperable tomorrow by changing their codebase. They don’t want to do that. I’m starting to think these trade organizations are inventing lawsuits and action committees to solve non-existent problems.

      • Anonymous

        As soon as YouTube changes their code to make a stream-ripper inoperable, someone will come out with an updated stream-ripper that circumvents that code. Would probably take a day or so. Any content someone can view on a computer can always be ripped, and that will never change.

        It isn’t really a new phenomenon. When I was a kid, I used to record videos off MTV on my VCR, and make “mix tapes” out of those videos. This is just a high tech version of that. We can’t stop that. But as long as we can ensure that any content made available on YouTube is content we can live with being ripped (i.e. promotional), then that will be enough.

        • Paul Resnikoff

          Not sure that’s true. It’s like cracking a password. What if the password changes every 24 hours? Then it can’t be cracked after 48 hours.

          • Anonymous

            Well, I admit, I’m not a hacker. That said, if what you describe was possible, then I would think there would be at least some streaming services using it. Maybe not YouTube, but certainly someone like Netflix, who actually have a profound interest in preventing their exclusive content from being ripped. Go to any torrent site and see if you have any trouble locating any exclusive Netflix shows. I’ll wait.

            If it can be streamed, it can be ripped. If we are successful in executing the above road map, the situation will improve. (I’ll admit that’s a big “if”, but hell, I can dream.)

    • Alex

      Google will never kill piracy. Just because they plan to do something doesn’t mean it will work.

      Piracy is not a problem. Instead judging people who download songs for free we
      must focus on the real criminals. Let me ask you one thing… If you can get high
      quality food for free would you take it? Of course you will. Everyone will break the
      rules when there’s profit.

      If Chrome will not block all ads it’s not the end of the World…
      Welcome Firefox 😉

  5. Andre

    It will also affect other add networks. It’s just monopoly that Google is playing with.

    • Remi Swierczek

      This is not monopoly.
      We are witnessing criminal activity riding on criminal law written by Clinton zombies under the influence of clueless (to this date) music lobby.

      Time to unite and smoke Google out of music SADISM!

  6. Anonymous

    Of course piracy is dying when YouTube is free (and pays little). Jesus.

  7. Roland of Aragon

    Hahahahahaha! You think this is going to stop people all over the net to come create a new and better way to make money? You believe that the smartest coders work for Google?? Think again.

    The only real way is to destroy the entire internet, but that would create a worldwide panic, because the biggest companies are tech companies. The stock market would crash and all hell would break lose.

  8. Nelson

    This is not going to end piracy starting with not everyone uses Chrome?

    What will help, ending it aint’ going to happen, is adding a pair key in the metadata fields that all of the musicbiz are supplying to creators , and is major part of the effort.

  9. Bor

    There is just one big problem with this scheme. Websites will start to actively deny users based on their browsers, unless of course google masquerades its user agent as something else but I doubt it since it can and probably will break compatibility with some websites. Just like you have websites that detect you have actively block some of their content, or disabled javascript this one would be the easiest to detect: which browser you are using. They will undoubtedly lose users over this and thats fine, but piracy will not go under such pretense. Sounds like a really half-baked idea

  10. Anonymous

    I never started torrenting due to ads. Who even uses ads? Really that works, people still click ads? Mind boggling I tell you. People that don’t have ad blockers and/or click ads need to be spayed and/or neutered. I’m old school since the 1st Napster. Ain’t going to stop, why? Oh because we’re still living in a word of $$$. F* the system. Side note, Thought it was funny Netflix blocked its app on the app stores for people with rooted phones but how does that really stop us when we can just get the APP. Goodnight.

      • L1G1

        let me get this straight…starving a website of ad revenue will destroy torrenting? How so?
        websites popup all over the place, and it seems like chrome will block ads moving through some kind of pipline of chromes…

        so this is the only way ads can be delivered to websites ?

        how about chrome? when was the last time you searched for torrents using chrome ?

        • L1G1

          in addendum…
          there could be a click through ad when you click the torrent file or magnet link …thus every torrent started would generate a click through, so as long as it could be kept clean of click fraud ads are still a green for a torrent site…

  11. Anonymous

    The fact that people want things for free means they should be free from the start. Please massacre everybody who would try to profit off another person.

  12. Jim

    lol, reading this bs over a year later. Good call, you fucking hack.

  13. Jim

    another know nothing bullshitting about a future he cant predict. Shut the fuck up Paul, you don’t know a goddamn thing, and google doesn’t need more hand jobs