Is Google Too Large To Be Convicted Of Profiting From Copyright Infringement?
First, Google won the lawsuit launched by Viacom against the Google-owned company YouTube, in relation to copyright infringement of its content. And then just last week YouTube won a temporary victory in the case brought by the German Performing Rights Association GEMA against YouTube for its refusal to take down 75 compositions. Clearly, there are significant issues at stake for content owners.
Albeit, according to Billboard, the judge in the GEMA case did “..indicate that there were good arguments in favour of the assumption that the applicants were entitled to seek a final injunction against the respondent under the provisions of copyright law, adding that it was reasonable to assume that the respondent had failed to perform reasonable checks or to take reasonable measures to avoid the copyright breach.”
What happens when a company is knowingly profiting from serving up links and paid advertisements via its Google adwords service to illegal file sharing sites?
Attempts to absolve Google using the data privacy argument are quite simply a subterfuge. Whether it be ISPs or search engines, both have the technology to monitor and track illegal activity. They already do so in relation to child porn. So why not other forms of content? The answer is simple! Search engines make sizeable amounts of money from driving users to torrent sites and ISPs make their money from increased bandwidth subscriptions. So, all in all, they are just feathering their respective nests.
For those of you who cry out, “But how can we compare illegal consumption of music or film content with that of child porn?” Well, in terms of sadistic cruelty, we can’t. However, what it does prove, is that both ISPs and search engines DO indeed have the technology to monitor and report offenders using their networks for illegal activity. This is despite ISPs’ continued arguments that they cannot actually undertake such monitoring. Some state costs, which in reality are not as high as they would have us all believe.
Furthermore, such costs should be borne by ISPs and/or search engines themselves and not lumped onto the content owning industries. As an ISP you have a moral duty to society to prevent illegal consumption of content over your networks, as infringing copyright IS a crime! Going further, the fact ISPs rely on subscribers,some of which use their networks for illegal activity, monitoring illegal activity becomes a legitimate business cost.
Turning a blind eye and citing that they cannot, or will not, police users of our private network is no longer a sustainable argument.
For argument’s sake (pun intended), using current ISP and Google logic (pun intended), if I were to walk into a convenience store and steal a top-up card for my mobile broadband, or even for $100 worth of Google adwords, and the store attendant witnesses me taking the item, yet decides to turn a blind eye (or perhaps even suggested I take it for free), how would the ISP or Google react? I guarantee you they would expect to use the full force of the law at their disposal…probably launching lawsuits against the chain of convenience stores. Going further, what if I as an individual decided to sell-on both the ISP top-up and the Google adwords credit for a profit?
The key issue here is that both search engines like Google and ISPs actually DO profit from allowing the illegal consumption of content. Search engines are even more insidious as they profit from adwords, link indexing and display ads with their platforms actively promoting sites that enable file sharing. Perhaps the content industries should consider the plan of attack used successfully by the US government in the 1940s against Al Capone. Yes, he was done for tax evasion.
TMV believes it would be a lot easier to prove that Google not only indexes sites and serves up free links to consumers promoting sites enabling illegal consumption of content, but that Google actually profits from its business activity and is intimately connected to serving up links to sites, promoting illegal sharing of content, namely from its adwords and display advertising products.
The fact Google profits from enabling (some could even say encouraging) illegal consumption of content would surely be easier to prove in a court of law than indicting individual file sharers? As previously stated by TMV in numerous previous posts, ignorance is not a defence in any Western democracy that we are aware of. So, profiting from enabling criminal activity (driving traffic to infringing sites) is surely a crime Google could easily be convicted for?
How can Google get away with profiting from promoting the illegal consumption of music? Quite simply, it is a company with one of the largest market caps in the world. Even if the whole content industries, games, film, music and newspapers were to take on Google, it could draw out the process till all said companies were bankrupted, due to legal costs.
TMV do believe the content industries would actually have a better chance of winning against Google and other search engines if they work on proving that Google profits from sites enabling copyright infringement.
Surely it cannot be that hard… just type in “torrent sites” into Google and it comes up with over 45 million link references, the first two being “torrentresource.com” and “torrentz.com”, with “thepiratebay.org” being number six in the rankings of the first page of the aforementioned Google search. If that is not knowingly encouraging consumers to illegally consume music, TMV do not know what is. As a start, Google could quite easily stop indexing and serving up searches which provide links to sites enabling copyright infringement.
Other Readers also Read: