Google criticised for anti-piracy efforts

A US congressional hearing into IP piracy has suggested that Google was falling short in its anti-piracy efforts. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet Subcommittee that is investigating Web sites accused of pirating intellectual property, noted certain of Google’s efforts, such as removing apps connected with websites accused of copyright violations, but suggested that Google hadn’t done enough. “The question isn’t what Google has done, but more about what Google has left to do,” he stated.

He listed a series of accusations that some in the entertainment industries have levelled at Google for years, such as the ability of the alleged pirate sites to fund their operations by posting Google ads on their site, as well as Google’s inability to promptly remove infringing materials when notified.

Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, told the hearing that the company had spent a great deal of money on helping copyright owners identify unauthorised content online, citing a content-identification system that helps keep pirated material from being posted on YouTube, which took 50,000 engineering hours to built.

According to Walker, Google would have an impossible time distinguishing legitimate content from illegitimate without the help of owners. Google requires content creators to submit take-down notices when they find links to unauthorised copies of their work. Content owners argue that the process is too arduous, and that content is put straight back up once taken down.

Walker said that alleged pirate sites cost Google money. “They cost us money to get rid of them. They cost us money when they use fake credit cards…we have no interest in having our advertisement leading to these sites.”

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) used the hearing to renew its call for legislative action against what it terms “rogue” Web sites, which offer pirated video content instead of properly licensing content.

Legislation combined with other efforts “will go a long way towards shutting down the unauthorised distribution of copyrighted works and close a gap in the intellectual property law,” said Michael O’Leary, executive VP, government affairs in testimony submitted for the record to the hearing.

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