I never ever dreamed I would see myself agreeing with the right-wing press baron Rupert Murdoch. However his recent tweet that Google is a “piracy leader” hits the nail on the head. As previously reported in TMV, Google continues to make money from linking to illegal torrent sites and then allowing advertisers using both text and display ads to display advertisements on these sites that steal content owners content.
The fact Google continues to serve up search results linking to sites that make money from advertising and subscription fees, yet never pay the rights holder is quite frankly morally reprehensible. This alone helps to drive the pirate industry. Reinforcing this further is the fact Google actually profits from serving advertisements to these sites, which is a further slap in the face from the arrogant global search giant.
Wikipedia and Google protest’s against the SOPA legislation in the United States is seriously misguided. ISP’s and search engines provide the gateway to the world-wide-web. In the physical world as a society the United States, England along with many other countries police the Somali seas to prevent piracy on the high seas against civilian trade ships. What is so different about protecting the content industries from equally disgusting behaviour in the form of illegal P2P and torrent sites?
Just like in the physical world where piracy on the high seas is policed and society condones that policing, what is so wrong about policing the Internet? ISP’s charge customers to access the online superhighway. So why should they not be partly responsible for the good behaviour of these same customers? At present they have cart blanche to turn a blind eye – which is exactly what they do.
Quality content costs lots of money to produce. This is where I depart from my agreement with Rupert Murdoch, because the large majority of his company’s publications cannot be equated with quality journalism no matter how much money was spent on producing such drivel. As Rupert believes the Internet needs to be regulated TMV also believe that Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper, TV and Movie Empire should be regulated to make sure he never has more than a 25% ownership across all media types. This point is key for the plurality of media in most western countries.
The irony of ISP’s and Google lobbying against SOPA and similar legislation in the UK and France is that over the long-term they are essentially shooting themselves in the foot. ISP’s and search engines depend upon ever-increasing output of content across all digital formats. By refusing to play an active role in policing online piracy they directly hurt the businesses investing in producing the content that their own networks rely on for customers.
In the case of ISP’s, they need companies producing content as without a continuous cycle of new content being produced ISP’s have no business model. They are reliant on selling ever-increasing bandwidth to customers so they can consume more and more content. But what happens if content producers can no longer afford to produce new content? Demand will drop for increased bandwidth – its simple economics folks!
Going further search engines like Google also rely on a continuous cycle of new content being produced. Without new content, there would be less for their engine to index and sell adwords and display advertising against.
It’s about time these large multi-billion dollar ISP’s and search engines started taking some responsibility for the fact each are profiting from the illegal activity of their customers. TMV suggests that they have a moral duty to society to work with the authorities to stamp out their customers illegal activity.
On a final note, ISP’s already police child pornography for society’s good, so why not other content against piracy? I’m not in any way equating the horrors of child pornography to basic content piracy. However, if policing one illegal activity can be achieved it can also be done for other illegal activity over the same gateways to the Internet.
Both Internet gateways and search engines have a symbiotic relationship with content creators and it is time that they respected content creators instead of staying active participants in the raping and pillaging of individuals and companies that create content.