A Pirates Life for No One

It might be the end of the road for all the pirates out there.

Let’s face it, most of us can attest to digitally pirating something in our lives. Whether it was an ill-gotten song when we were kids, to downloading the newest episode of Game of Thrones, the odds are we’ve all been guilty of this behaviour at some point.

Of course, all of us realized that this was wrong. I’m sure all of our readers are honest and upstanding citizens and don’t use products that have been illegally downloaded.

Right?

Well, things are about to get a lot harder for those individuals who continue to download all manner of things illegally from the Internet. At least if they use Google.

Google and Piracy

Google doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to online piracy. They’ve been blasted time and time again by Hollywood and other content owners for not doing enough to prevent links to pirated material from showing up in its search results.

What does online piracy mean exactly?

Now, Google hasn’t been ignoring online privacy by any means.

In 2012, they announced they’d demote the ranking of websites that received a large number of DMCA notices in their search results.

For many, this wasn’t enough. Many music and film rights holders accused Google of not doing enough to tackle copyright infringement.

In fact, an open letter sent mid-September to the European competition commissioner,  News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson branded the company a “platform for piracy and the spread of malicious networks.”

By the Numbers

Now, it can be difficult to put online piracy into perspective to understand why so many are so upset. The internet is a huge beast, using up as much energy as any of the larger countries out there. So how can anyone hope to understand how much of its use is illegal?

Check out these statistics to try to wrap your head around it.

  • According to a survey of Spain, 1 in 2 internet users there download illegal content.
  • More than 1 million illegal downloads of the Game of Thrones season four premiere were recorded in just half a day
  • The US economy loses $12.5 billion in revenue each year to it
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was illegally downloaded more than 8 million times.
  • 42 percent of all computer software used around the world in 2010 was pirated.
  • More than 146 million visits were logged everyday at piracy sites in 2011.

Now that is a huge amount of traffic.

Google’s new front in the Piracy Battle.

In defence to these claims, Google published an updated How Google Fights Privacy report last week. This report explains how the search engine fights piracy across its services. It lists all the official numbers and developments.

Katherine Oyama is the Senior Copyright Policy Counsel. She claims that the Google has been testing many initiatives to combat privacy.

Currently, they are trying out new ad formats in their search results. These results mostly target searches related to music and movies. These ads will direct people to legitimate sources of media, rather than piracy sites.

For the searches for movies that include terms such as ‘download’, ‘free’, or ‘watch’, Google will list sources like Google Play, Amazon and Netflix.

These initiatives are currently only operational in the United States. Google has plans to spread it to the rest of the world.

Google has also developed an improved DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) demotion signal in Search.

What that means is that illegal search results (torrents or downloads) will no longer be at the top of the search page results. Instead they will be on later pages, and near the bottom of those pages. Legitimate, legal sites like Amazon or Google will instead take the top spots.

In addition to this search result demotion, Google is also targeting the searches themselves. More terms are being removed from Google auto-complete, based on legitimate DMCA removal notices.

Despite all these policies and initiatives, Google claims that the best way to battle piracy is for content owners to distribute their works via legitimate digital services.

Google maintains that the best way to battle piracy is for content owners to distribute their works via legitimate digital services.

“As services ranging from Netflix to Spotify to iTunes have demonstrated, the best way to combat piracy is with better and more convenient legitimate services. The right combination of price, convenience and inventory will do far more to reduce piracy than enforcement can.” — How Google Fights Privacy report

 

Repercussions

Updates began rolling out globally last week.

Sites like rapidgator.net, filestube.com and dilandau.eu, each of which has received at least 11 million individual take down requests, will likely be the first targetted.

It will be interesting to see how these new copyright initiatives will affect legimate sources of creative art. There is a bevy of original art on the internet based off of other people’s creations.

Such as this Game of Thrones piece of fanart by artist Gigei deviantart.com

It certainly looks like Winter is Coming for all the Pirates out there!

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