Google Wants to Pass the Buck on Piracy, but Keep Theirs?

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 7.25.31 PMIt’s no surprise that anytime there’s discussion about finding effective ways to combat online piracy Google’s name seems to be in the mix.  When the subject does come up, the constant refrain from Google officials is that they’re doing everything they can–but how much is just PR posturing versus real action?

Check out Google’s latest apparent stratagem.  In a story by Katherine Rushton published on 2/16/13 in The Telegraph  “Google looks to cut funds to illegal sites,” she reported that the company is pushing payment processors to cut off the flow of money sites linked to online piracy.

Google is in discussions with payment companies including Visa, Mastercard and PayPal to put illegal download websites out of existence by cutting off their funding.  The web search giant, which is embroiled in a long-running row over the way it deals with pirated material, is considering the radical measure so that it can get rid of the root cause instead of having to change its own search results.

Executives want to stop websites more or less dedicated to offering links to pirated films, music and books from making money out of the illegal material. The plans, still in discussion, would also block funding to websites that do not respond to legal challenges, for example because they are offshore.

I’m not sure there’s anything very “radical” here.  In fact, cutting off the flow of money is actually one area where some progress has already been made.  PayPal, long a ubiquitous lifeline for such sites, has cut ties to numerous pirate cyberlockers including Putlocker, Mediafire, and Depositfiles.

Any progress in severing piracy’s blood supply is a certainly a good thing BUT for Google to claim the company is working to “block funding” of pirate sites–while simultaneously profiting from them–seems more than a tad disingenuous.  What about blocking access to funding via their AdSense accounts on YouTube and Blogger?  Why focus on Visa and Mastercard when one’s own house is in such disarray?

It’s not hard to find Google’s fingerprints on the dollars generated by online piracy. Here’s but a sampling I’ve documented from just the past few months:

  1. How Are Google’s Anti-Piracy Search Policies Working?
  2. Why Doesn’t YouTube Address the Real Content ID Fail?
  3. Bridge to Piracy?
  4. Google Search #FAIL Means More $$$ for Them
  5. Google Complains that it’s Hard Work to Remove Reported Pirate Links
  6. Youtube Allows Pirate “Partners” to Profit From Illegal Movie Uploads
  7. Content Leeches-The Dark Underbelly of YouTube’s Content Monetization
  8. Chronic, Ill-Gotten Gains–Google’s Web of Piracy Profit
  9. YouTube (and Netflix) monetize online piracy
  10. 3 Strikes on YouTube and You’re OUT?  Maybe…
  11. Netflix Ads + Google Blogspot + Stolen Movies = Piracy Profits

More examples, going back nearly 3 years, can be found on my blog Pop Up Pirates-Who Profits from Piracy?  If Google is really serious about combatting piracy, shouldn’t they examine the skeletons in their own closet?

Ironically, the same day Ms. Rushton published her piece in The Telegraph, she also posted this story “Google’s copyright war rages on-UK creative industries want the internet giant brought to heel.”
But the creative industries are not yet satisfied. They want those websites that are the subject of tens of thousands of “take down” requests to be blocked altogether – sites like and whose primary purpose appears to be offering downloads of pirated content. They also claim that the changes Google has made to its algorithm are not particularly effective.

I couldn’t agree more.  Whether it’s Google’s search, YouTube, Blogger or AdSense, Google seems to have a finger in every slice of the piracy pie.  Apparently the only buck that stops in Mountain View is the kind that goes into the bank.

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