Digital Top Stories

IFPI rates Google on anti-piracy efforts: “Incomplete”

By | Published on Wednesday 21 December 2011


The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry and Recording Industry Association Of America have published an overview of Google’s efforts to stop its various platforms – including the search engine, YouTube, Android app store and Google advertising network – from assisting music pirates, either by providing exposure or direct revenue.

The overview relates to pledges made by Google on these issues in December last year, and concludes that while those promises are to be commended, the web giant has much still to do to make good on its commitments.

Says the IFPI report: “While Google has taken some modest steps to deal with copyright infringement online, the promises made by Google remain unfulfilled. Despite its steps, the simple fact is that Google continues to both receive financial benefits from sites and applications that engage in piracy and place artificial road blocks in rights holders’ efforts to protect their content online, contrary to the [America’s] Digital Millennium Copyright Act”.

The IFPI paper also plays down Google’s claim at a recent congressional hearing in the US that it had invested $60 million in the last year to crack down on violations of its advertising polices, by saying: “While that may seem like a large number, it has to be looked at in relation to Google’s revenues. That same year (2010), Google had revenues of more than $29 billion, of which more than $28 billion were derived from its advertising business. This ‘investment’ in efforts to prevent violations represents only two tenths of a percent of their revenues. Not such a big investment, after all”.

On specific areas, the IFPI says that…

– Google’s tools for issuing certain takedown requests need more scale (the daily limit for takedown requests is far too low, the IFPI says, especially for larger rights owners).

– More piracy-aiding terms need to be removed from Google’s search engine auto-complete tool.

– More should be done to stop piracy sites from carrying Google-generated advertising, especially new sites.

– There should be joined up action, so that if an app is removed from Google’s Android store on piracy grounds, the corresponding website should be deprived Google-generated advertising.

– Google should factor takedown requests into its search algorithms, so authorised content providers come up higher in searches than unauthorised ones.

The report also says that Google needs to do more to speed up its response to takedown requests by copyright owners, especially when it comes to copyright infringing Android apps – though Google might argue that that would be easier to do if certain big content owners didn’t submit dubious takedown requests relating to content they don’t own (yes, Mr Universal Music, that would be referring to you).

So, lots for Google to be getting on with, assuming there is a genuine desire at the web giant to help combat online piracy, or at least a desire to ensure the big music companies stay supportive of its Google Music service, which, unlike YouTube, is yet to reach the sort of critical mass where rights owners would be totally shooting themselves in the foot to withdraw their content.

You can read the full IFPI/RIAA review, should you wish, here.