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Google must delete 'torrent' from autocomplete, court says

A French court rules that the search giant might have to curb "piracy-related" words in its autocomplete and instant features.


The French Supreme Court has ruled that Google may have to censor the words "torrent," "RapidShare," and "Megaupload" from its instant and autocomplete searches, according to TorrentFreak.

In its ongoing court case with French music industry group SNEP, Google has been accused of implicitly allowing copyright violations for not filtering out these words. The SNEP alleges that when users type in names of well-known musicians in Google search, file-sharing sites get added on with the autocomplete feature.

"We are disappointed by the court's ruling," a Google spokesperson told CNET. "Google Autocomplete algorithmically returns search queries that are a reflection of the search activity of all web users."

Despite the shock value of having to censor words, the case is actually moot at this point. According to TorrentFreak, Google already started filtering "piracy-related" terms last year from its autocomplete feature. While users worldwide will see "torrent" and "megaupload" in search results, they won't see them in autocomplete or instant services.

Autocomplete aside, Google has already begun removing URLs on its own accord. According to the Transparency Report it released in May, the company said it was deleting millions of URLs that allegedly host copyrighted or pirated material. It takes down the URLs based on requests from the copyright holders.

Also, this isn't the first time Google has been sued in French courts for copyright infringement. In May, the search giant won a YouTube copyright case, in which the court ruled that Google was not liable for filtering out pirated content on YouTube.

The current case brought by SNEP is moving to the Court of Appeal for a final ruling.

Updated on July 19, 2012, 9:35 p.m. PT with comment from Google.