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MPAA Blames Google for Its Piracy Problems, Again

September 20, 2013 - Written By Lucian Armasu

It’s no secret that MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) has always tried to throw the blame at others for Hollywood’s decreasing sales and revenue, and usually the target is piracy, or whatever they are calling piracy (sometimes it can be small pieces of remixed content, that would normally fall under fair use).

Ever since SOPA, they’ve set their eyes on one particular target – Google. They’re now crying everywhere they go that Google is their main piracy problem, even though they never seem to be able to back that up with facts. Even in their latest report, which they’re using to blame Google once again, it’s shown that only 20% of visits to infringing URLs comes via search engines, while 35.4% comes from “linking” sites, and 40.5% is given just as “other”.

Even though Google fought against SOPA, which made Hollywood very angry, the truth is Google has already made a lot of concessions to them. For example, Youtube’s ContentID system is a class above any other system out there that is designed to automatically flag and delete user-generated content. In fact, it’s so aggressive that many of the removed videos don’t even constitute as valid copyright infringements. Sometimes videos get removed even for having songs of real birds in them – which I’m sure everyone can agree is just insane. How can you copyright a bird’s song? Yet, that’s exactly what has happened to some Youtube users.

Google has also removed auto-suggestions that included the word “torrent” in them, has made tools for MPAA and others to mass-takedown web pages from its index, and has even altered its own search engine algorithm to downrank websites that received “too many” DMCA’s.

But after all of these, is MPAA ever happy? Of course not. They keep demanding more and more. Now they’re asking Google to stop showing links to “illegitimate content” on its search results, as if Google can just waive a magic wand, and make it happen. That requires a lot of fine tuning in its search engine, and even then it’s not going to be perfect, because it’s very hard to tell an algorithm which is legitimate content and which isn’t.

Even if Google solves this, it will probably be something only Google will be able to (mostly) solve anyway, because it’s a very hard problem that requires very advanced algorithms and AI. But I bet MPAA has no clue about all of this. They just think it’s a matter of policy, and Google can implement it the next day if they really wanted.

If we’re lucky, the “Internet” won’t have to fight MPAA and friends for much longer, and maybe eventually they’ll come to see Internet companies as allies rather than enemies. As Michael Beckerman, president and chief executive of the Internet Association, says:

“In reality, the internet is empowering content creators and consumers to access more lawful content than ever before.

“In fact, I would argue that the internet provides a massive opportunity for creators to reach consumers and build their audience,” Beckerman continued. “MPAA fought the VCR years ago and that technology ended up being a boon to their industry. We’ll see the same story repeat with the Internet.”