Tiffany Houkom

Google Brings Home a Bad Report Card from the RIAA

There has been much discussion lately surrounding Internet piracy as a result of Congress’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Long before the creation of this act, Google made four promises to help fight online piracy in a 2010 blog post titled, “Making Copyright Work Better Online.” Recently, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) issued a report card lecturing Google on not following through with several of its promises. The report card, which gives Google an overall “incomplete” grade, also makes the bold request for Google to “stop making money from digital theft.”

Here is a quick look at the RIAA’s follow up to each of Google’s promises.

“We’ll act on reliable copyright takedown requests within 24 hours”
While the RIAA credits Google by saying that the company has made improvements on how quickly it removes pirate apps from the Android Marketplace, there is still work to be done. The RIAA states that the takedown time for some apps is still longer than 24 hours, and implies that Google’s “ability to respond to search requests within nanoseconds” should also be applied to their responsiveness in removing illegal apps. The RIAA also suggests that Google should enact a better screening process for new apps to help prohibit pirate apps from ever becoming available to the public.

“We will prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete”
Shortly after Google released this promise, it began removing certain piracy-related terms from Autocomplete, such as “BitTorrent.” However, the RIAA claims that “Autocomplete still suggests terms associated with piracy when a user is searching for a piece of music or a movie.” For example, when searching for the phrase, “Bruno Mars mp3,” piracy related terms such as “Bruno mars mp3 free download” appear. The RIAA firmly believes piracy sites should never appear in the first position within Google’s results.

“We will improve our AdSense anti-piracy review”
The RIAA notes that Google has made efforts to remove infringing sites from its AdSense program, but insists that it “still needs to be more proactive in removing their advertising services from pirate sites.” The RIAA proposes that Google should develop a better initial screening process of sites to ensure that its ads will not be served on pirate sites.

“We will experiment to make authorized preview content more readily accessible in search results”
The RIAA makes a strong statement in the report card, claiming that “Google has persistently resisted requests by the music industry to prioritize sites with authorized content over unauthorized sites.” The Association recognized the launch of Google’s Music Rich Snippets, but goes on to say that “Google did not meaningfully consult with music experts in developing the technological specifications to identify music for these purposes.” However, it is interesting to note that the report contains no mention of Google Music. Google Music is similar to iTunes, and could be seen as Google’s attempt to help music lovers find and purchase music legally.

Over the next year, it will be interesting to follow Google on its mission to fight online piracy. What are your thoughts on the RIAA’s report card? Do you feel that Google should be expected to ensure that pirated content does not appear in top positions? Let us know in the comments below!


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