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RIAA tackles Google on ‘piracy’ takedowns

Must try harder
Fri Jun 01 2012, 11:59
Concept image representing software piracy

MUSIC CARTEL FRONT the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has given Google a nudge and asked it to do more in the fight against so-called 'piracy'.

Google released its Transparency Report last week detailing incidents where it was asked to take down links to offending material. It seems that the firm keeps itself busy doing that, but for the RIAA it is not enough, and the music recording industry organisation accused the internet search firm of standing in the way of its repression of music filesharing.

"Google acknowledged that fighting piracy is very important and that it doesn't want search results directing people to materials that violate copyright laws," said Brad Buckles, EVP for anti-'piracy' at the RIAA as he lined up a smackdown.

"It is good to see that Google agrees with this fundamental principle and continues to take steps to deter infringement. Transparency is also important - knowing which infringing sites receive the most notices presents an important red flag regarding those sites."

This much is not enough for Buckles and his peers, and he said that when it comes to transparency Google has its own questions to answer.

"Even more transparency is needed to fully understand the scope of the problem. Knowing the total number of links to infringing material available and the limitations Google imposes on rights owners to search for infringements reveals how meager the number of notices is relative to the vast amount of infringement," he added.

"Search for any major recording artist's track and the term 'mp3,' and you'll find that most of the very first results offered by Google direct people to infringing material. Unfortunately, one sees similar results when one searches for any popular creative content followed by the words 'free download'."

So, he said, while Google holds out one hand to rightsholders, the other is behind its back making rude gestures. Rather than actually highlighting what happens, and what the issue really is, it just puts out its version of events, and that, says Buckles, isn't good enough.

"On the one hand, Google states that it processes an overwhelming number of notices. On the other hand, Google's data misleads by calculating that the DMCA notice requests represent a tiny fraction of the pages on even the most recidivist sites."

Buckles accused Google of having limits on the way that takedowns can be made, and that this limits the number of places where they can be made from.

"In order to notify Google of an infringement, you first need to find the infringement. But Google places artificial limits on the number of queries that can be made by a copyright owner to identify infringements," he added.

"These limits significantly decrease the utility of Google's take down tool given the vast nature of the piracy problem today and the number of titles we are trying to protect. The number of queries they allow is miniscule, especially when you consider that Google handles more than 3 billion searches per day. Yet Google has denied requests to remove this barrier to finding the infringements."

This all adds up to a firm that actually helps people find unlawful content, he added, and does little to help the RIAA in its crusade against 'piracy'.

It all gets a big 'whatever' from Google, where these claims have been routinely dismissed. "We have never imposed any limit on the number of DMCA notices that a copyright owner or reporting organisation may send us," said a spokesperson, with the suggestion that in some cases the system can be flooded with requests from rightsholders.

"We do have some technical safeguards in our trusted partner program (where submitters may be using automated mechanisms to send large volumes) as a safeguard against accidental flooding of the system." µ


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