Of course the public is going to pirate music when 80% of our search results for music direct us to illegal sites. That's the claim made by a coalition of entertainment industry groups in a private document sent to the U.K. government.
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In the paper, the coalition says that Google and other search engines such as Bing implicitly support pirating and copyright infringement by directing users to illegal sites as opposed to the site of rights-holders.
As reported by The Guardian, the document pitches the government to impose stricter guidelines on Google to monitor these links by continuously reviewing key search words and to better screen mobile apps on Android smartphones to stop illegal sharing. The group is also asking the government to create a voluntary body that could remove copyright-infringing websites from search engine results on Google and its peers.
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The paper was sent to Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries in the U.K. as part of an ongoing conversation about online piracy. The paper was submitted on behalf of major British rights-holder organizations including the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) the Motion Picture Association (MPA) the Premier League, the Publishers Association and the Pact. The search engine accusations come hot on the heels of the SOPA and PIPA controversies and in the middle of a renewed debate over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) rolling through Europe.
The coalition of rights-holders see search engines as the gatekeepers to piracy. As The Guardian reports:
The document claims that 16 of the first 20 Google search results for chart singles link to "known illegal sites", according to searches by the BPI in September. In an attempt to persuade the government to clamp down on search engines, the groups claim that 41% of Google's first-page results for bestselling books in April last year were "non-legal links" to websites.
The idea is that if Google and other search engines stopped linking to illegal sites, than people would have a harder time pirating music and other digital content. Although Google has made efforts to honor removal requests based on illegal sites and piracy, the rights holders says that "as time goes on, the situation is getting worse rather than better."
Well, yeah. Internet censorship is like launching an offensive on Russia in the winter: Long, drawn out and ultimately ineffective. Internet regulation and censorship will have a hard time catching up with the hacker community and the thousands of websites dedicated to sharing content, legal and otherwise.
Should Google try to do more or are the coalition's requests entirely wrong-headed? Sound off in the comments.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Vanessa Pike-Russell
This story originally published on Mashable here.