Google to do more piracy fighting with search

At a time when Google is trying to obtain film and music content, the company has announced it will boost antipiracy efforts.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
3 min read

Google, once considered by some media companies as a rogue actor on the issue of copyright, is stepping up antipiracy efforts, the company said today.

On Google's public policy blog, Kent Walker, the company's general counsel wrote:

•  We'll act on reliable copyright take-down requests within 24 hours. We will build tools to improve the submission process to make it easier for rights holders to submit DMCA takedown requests for Google products (starting with Blogger and Web Search). And for copyright owners who use the tools responsibly, we'll reduce our average response time to 24 hours or less. At the same time, we'll improve our "counter-notice" tools for those who believe their content was wrongly removed and enable public searching of takedown requests.

•  We will prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete. While it's hard to know for sure when search terms are being used to find infringing content, we'll do our best to prevent Autocomplete from displaying the terms most frequently used for that purpose.

•  We will improve our AdSense antipiracy review. We have always prohibited the use of our AdSense program on Web pages that provide infringing materials. Building on our existing DMCA takedown procedures, we will be working with rights holders to identify, and, when appropriate, expel violators from the AdSense program.

•  We will experiment to make authorized preview content more readily accessible in search results. Not surprisingly, we're big fans of making authorized content more accessible on the Internet. Most users want to access legitimate content and are interested in sites that make that content available to them (even if only on a preview basis). We'll be looking at ways to make this content easier to index and find.

Google makes these moves as it comes under increasing pressure from the film and music industries to do more to thwart illegal file sharing and piracy. How that pressure can be applied is this: Google is trying to license music, film, and TV shows from entertainment companies for a music service and for the recently launched software platform, Google TV.

During these licensing negotiations, some on the entertainment side have noted that there are scores of file-sharing services and illegal streaming-video sites that feature Google ads on their Web pages, according to multiple sources in the film and music sectors.

The U.S. government has also taken notice.

A bill introduced in the Senate this year, known as the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, would give the U.S. government the ability to shut down domain names of sites it alleges are involved with piracy. The government could also require Internet service providers, credit card companies, and online ad vendors, such as Google, to stop doing business with these sites.

Google has always dismissed its detractors in Hollywood with the argument that the search engine has always adhered to copyright law and specifically the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In 2006, after acquiring video-sharing site, YouTube, many in Hollywood expected Google to come to town and cut some licensing deals.

That didn't happen, at least initially, and Viacom, parent company of MTV and Comedy Central, filed a $1 billion copyright suit against Google in 2007. Google triumphed in that case this year. Indeed, over the past two years, Google has built stronger ties to Hollywood and the big recording companies. The search engine licensed music and films for YouTube and built a filtering system that prevented YouTube users from posting unauthorized copies of films and TV shows.

But for some in the entertainment industry, Google was still too soft on piracy. Google's search engine is still a popular way to find pirated copies of songs and films. Some in Hollywood say Google helps finance piracy by allowing file-sharing networks to participate in Adsense, which pays Web sites that feature Google's ads on a per-click or per-impression basis.