Google and Bing accused in piracy war
In many legal cases to stand by and knowingly allow someone to commit a crime is, in itself, a crime. Similarly, to aid in the transportation or storage of stolen goods is tantamount to theft.
Online though the same rules don’t apply. Because there’s no emotion, or morality, at work in an inanimate search engine, and so it’s difficult to accuse these service providers of a criminal offence. Google, et al, are designed to do what we ask, with the only prejudices involved coming from our own history and pre-set preferences. Until now, maybe.
As Media Guardian reported today Google and Bing, two major search engine players, have both been accused of pointing users in the direction of illegal film and music downloads, while making it more difficult for people to find official, paid-for equivalents online. This has all come from a document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act which contains suggestions made to Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications, and Creative Industries, by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the Motion Picture Association (MPA), the Publishers Association, the Premier League, and Pact; a trade body for independent film and TV producers.
The proposals include a voluntary body charged with removing illegal file sharing and file hosting sites from search results, and are really just the next stage in what has so far been a lengthy process of ‘cleaning up online piracy’, a task that’s still only in the earliest phase. Recently Google introduced a fast-track service for those wanting to request a website to be removed from results page, which is an improvement from a licensees perspective but the biggest move may have more self interest at heart.
With Google’s overall reach in the world of web things nothing short of comprehensive (it’s one of the only brands with a finger in almost every online pie), the launch of a new Google music service, allowing people to search for, stream, and download songs, is a move into one of the few untapped territories. It’s already a highly competitive marketplace though, so if there’s any hope of taking on the big guns some serious cash will need to be invested. Now ‘pirate sites’ have become a direct competitor it seems unlikely some of this money won’t be spent on more drastic steps to reduce their presence, making for an interesting potential turning point.