Google criticised over copyright piracy action
Published Dec 21 2011, 16:58 GMT | By Andrew Laughlin Google
has failed in its promise to tackle illegal file-sharing and copyright piracy, a leading music industry trade body has claimed.
The IFPI, which represents the recording industry worldwide, said that guarantees made by Google this year over piracy "remain unfulfilled".
The body further alleged that Google is happy to profit from websites and users guilty of copyright infringement.
However, the US search engine giant refused to respond to the allegations, telling the BBC that this was merely a "press stunt".
In a blog post on December 2, 2010, Google's general counsel Kent Walker laid out a series of measures that the search firm planned to tackle piracy. This included "refining and improving [its] processes in ways that help both rights holders and users".
However, the IFPI alleged that Google is in fact content to "receive financial benefits from sites and applications that engage in piracy", while also placing "artificial road blocks in rights holders' efforts to protect their content online".
Google says it has spent $60m (£38m) on tackling piracy this year, but the IFPI said that was tiny against the $28bn Google earns from online and mobile advertising.
"We believe it is reasonable to expect Google to do more, particularly in those areas where Google financially benefits from the activity," said the IFPI.
"Other intermediaries in the Internet ecosystem - such as payment processors, ISPs, and advertising firms - have all stepped forward to work constructively on voluntary initiatives to address rampant digital online theft and encourage the lawful consumption of creative works.
"Google, as the overwhelming market leader in search and online advertising, has a special responsibility to lead and create a safe and secure internet experience that works for consumers and the creative community."
Many rights holders, particularly those in the music and film industries, have called on Google to take a firmer line on piracy.
This is because as the world's biggest search engine, Google has the power to deprive websites of prominence in the search results, meaning they will not be able to attract as many users and so lose out on ad revenue.
Google has said that it will "act on reliable copyright takedown requests within 24 hours", usually after it has been served with a court order.
But the IFPI feels Google is dragging its feet with the action, saying that the company should respond to requests in "nanoseconds".
The body also noted that the time it takes for pirated mobile apps to be removed from the Android Martketplace, "while improving, still takes longer than 24 hours".
"More importantly, Google still doesn't adequately screen apps before they are placed in the Android Marketplace. This means Google, by taking a 'see no evil' approach, receives financial benefits from these pirate apps until such time as Google is notified and Google decides to take them down," said the IFPI.
"And even then Google makes money from these apps to the extent Google continues its advertising or 'Google wallet' relationship with those apps that have already been installed on devices."
It added: "We do note that Google has improved its takedown speeds for links to infringing files in search results and on hosted blogs to less than 24 hours.
"As it wasn't all that long ago that Google required content owners to fax notices of infringement to the company, this is clearly an improvement. But in the area of pre-release material in particular, the damage that can be done in seconds, let alone days, cannot be overstated."
The IFPI also claimed that Google publicly states its commitment to tackling piracy, but then challenges any legislative action aimed at combating the problem.
"While professing to agree that copyright infringement is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, Google raises alarmist, self-serving criticism to any legislative proposal to deter or thwart rampant copyright infringement," said the organisation.
"Google should stop engaging in destructive rhetoric and come to the table with constructive proposals to address this problem."
However, Google pointed to statements made by its copyright counsel Katherine Oyama last month about what the firm is doing to tackle piracy.
Attending a hearing on controversial legislation that would allow the US government to take down any websites found guilty of piracy, Oyama said that the "only long-term way to beat piracy online is to offer consumers more compelling legitimate alternative".
She also said that Google had closed down almost 150,000 accounts of people using sponsored search results to sell counterfeit goods, and claimed that in most cases offending links were removed from its search results within six hours of a notice from the rights holder.> Jeremy Hunt gets touch with new anti-piracy plans> Max Mosley to sue Google over 'orgy' search results