RIAA slams Google as not doing enough to fight piracy

The trade group releases a report card on Google that claims the Web giant's pledge to demote pirate sites "remains unfulfilled."

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

This isn't the first time, and probably won't be the last time, that the Recording Industry Association of America will complain about Google's work to tackle copyright infringement and piracy.

The trade group released a report card (PDF) today claiming that little has changed since Google promised to crack down on piracy six months ago.

"We recognize and appreciate that Google has undertaken some positive steps to address links to illegal music on its network," RIAA's EVP and general counsel Steven M. Marks said in a statement. "Unfortunately, our initial analysis concludes that so far Google's pledge six months ago to demote pirate sites remains unfulfilled."

Google outlined new controversial measures in August that were designed to penalize sites that generated many complaints from copyright owners. The company said it would lower the search ranking of sites that got high numbers of removal takedown notices.

For the past two years, Google has continually made more concessions to copyright owners, who have long demanded that it take steps to prevent its search engine from aiding copyright infringement. But, the action it took in August was among the most significant antipiracy measures the company has ever adopted.

Now, half a year later, the RIAA is saying that Google's move didn't do much.

"Six months later, we have found no evidence that Google's policy has had a demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy," the RIAA wrote in its report card. "These sites consistently appear at the top of Google's search results for popular songs or artists."

The RIAA released a similar report card last year where it also condemned Google for not doing enough to tackle piracy. The group has additionally been critical of Google's transparency reports, in which the search giant releases information on its removal of the millions of URLs that contain copyrighted material. The RIAA has said that these numbers are inflated.

"Searches for popular music continue to yield results that emphasize illegal sites at the expense of legitimate services, which are often relegated to later pages," Marks said in his statement today. "And Google's auto-complete function continues to lead users to many of those same illicit sites."

CNET contacted Google for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.