Game Over: Google Insists on Linking to Pirate Sites

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt dealt authors and publishers a staggering and possibly fatal blow by declaring he opposed any effort to curtail Google’s right to link to piracy websites like Pirate Bay.  And he said it in such unequivocal terms that any author cherishing a shred of hope for the protection of his or her rights is spitting in the wind.

Josh Halliday of The Guardian reports: “Speaking to journalists after his keynote speech at Google’s Big Tent conference in London, Schmidt said the online search giant would challenge attempts to restrict access to the Pirate Bay and other so-called “cyberlocker” sites that encourage illegal downloading – part of government plans to fight online piracy through controversial measures included in the Digital Economy Act.”

We don’t know how his speech went down, as England’s Digital Economy Act is one of the few government initiatives anywhere in the world that attempts to punish illegal filesharers.  (See Brits Hit Pirates While Yanks Fiddle)

Comparing efforts to control Google links to pirate sites with repressive Chinese mind-control, Schmidt said in no uncertain terms: “If there is a law that requires DNSs [domain name systems, the protocol that allows users to connect to websites] to do X and it’s passed by both houses of congress and signed by the president of the United States and we disagree with it then we would still fight it,” he added. “If it’s a request the answer is we wouldn’t do it, if it’s a discussion we wouldn’t do it.”

Read Google boss: anti-piracy laws would be disaster for free speech and despair.  But save your spit.  This game is over.

Richard Curtis

For a complete archive of posts about piracy visit E-Reads’ Pirate Central

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11 Responses to Game Over: Google Insists on Linking to Pirate Sites

  1. Craig says:

    It might be interesting to see what would happen if Congress did pass such a law, and when someone like Pirate Bay was charged, Google was also charged, in Criminal Court, for not following the law by knowingly linking to them. If Google Execs were on the hook for their stated policies, things might…possibly…look different.

    • @ Craig

      No one seems interested in taking moral or legal responsibility, or even seems to be aware there should be any. Hard to see anything changing until someone passes a law or sues. Who has time and deep pockets enough to take on Google?
      RC

  2. Well, the good news is that most authors use Google to chase down the pirates so, by keeping the links public, the pirates can’t hide so easily.

    This is certainly no surprise about Google’s attitude. From the very beginning, they have been nibbling away at copyright up to and including scanning whole books online without permission and making money off the extra content.

  3. Rowena Cherry says:

    So much for “Don’t Be Evil” as a motto.

  4. Rowena Cherry says:

    I think Google, or someone similar, has over-reached in many ways. The street photos of people and their homes was bad. Now we’re seeing close-up aerial photos of people’s homes.

    Sites are matching up Google photos taken without permission of homes from above and from the street with names, ages, addresses, tax info, speculations about mortgages and rents… Big Brother really is watching.

  5. Robert Courtland says:

    This continues with the industry assumption that all illegal downloads are lots sales. Most who download either are too broke or too cheap to buy the products they download. It increases name recognition and for those who are too broke, when they do have money, they are likely to pay for future products.

  6. Rowena Cherry says:

    No, it does not continue with the industry assumption, Robert.

    I don’t know of any author who assumes that *all* illegal downloads are lost sales. That’s something that people who like to take content without paying for it argue in order to make authors seem ridiculous.

    Why, Robert, should the laws be changed –or not enforced– to accommodate those whom you call “the cheap” and the “broke”? We’re not talking about human rights or life-saving necessities.

    Moreover, your assumption is that the authors who are being ripped off today will still be in a financial position to continue writing until those broke people get back on their feet and decide that they ought to pay for those authors’ books.

    One cannot dine out on name recognition.

    As for “the broke”, it is more likely that those who become accustomed to getting their entertainment free will perceive that they are entitled to free entertainment, and will vociferously resist any encouragement to pay.

    Moreover, if those people are so broke, how do they afford Kindles and internet fees? I rather doubt that they are downloading on dial-up (and if they are, how do they pay their phone bills?)

  7. Ann says:

    GROW UP AND GET A LIFE, Courtland. Authors lose thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS of dollars they can’t afford (they’re not all in Norah Roberts or James Patterson’s income bracket) and will never recoup what they lose, thanks to thieves, yes THIEVES. If they stole these books in a department store, they’d be in a court of law in front of a judge. Rightly so. Sympathy from people like you disgusts me. It just makes a bad problem worse. Name recognition? That’s not much good when an author isn’t even earning our his/her advance and trying to pay the rent. Many authors don’t have day jobs – some are sick, some have kids and day care is too expensive for the job they could get, some can’t get jobs at all, etc. etc. But whether they work or not shouldn’t be the issue here. I’m pointing it out because of the sick mentality these thieves have and how they must justify it to themselves. And yay Rowena! You’re right. How do these thieves afford Kindles if, as Courtland says, they can’t afford to buy books? Spare me the drivel, Courtland.
    It’s time Google’s wings were clipped. They’re getting too cocky with their power and I hope governments soon deal with this hateful beast who has no respect for the “person”. Just the dollar.

  8. William B. says:

    Ann, I have to agree with Mr. Courtland. I’m not convinced that authors are losing thousands of dollars to thieves, because I doubt those thieves, or the people they service, would ever buy the books in the first place. Piracy is rampant in the music industry, yet Apple–which offers low cost downloads–is making a fortune, and is currently the number one music retailer in the world.

    Another point is that both music artists AND authors have been robbed blind by the publishing and recording industries for years, so if you want to cry thief, perhaps you should take a look at the business practices that take the lion share of the profit from an artist who has to take a day job in order to survive.

    But the real point here has nothing to do with piracy. The banning of websites alone is a dangerous practice and I think Google recognizes this. Pirate Bay is one thing, but who decides which websites should be banned and which ones we should be allowed to visit? How is it determined that a website has violated the law and deserves banishment?

    What if a website had copyrighted material uploaded to their servers without its knowledge? This happens ALL the time, and there’s not much the site can do about it. It’s technologically impossible. So should a site be banned simply because they happen to have a couple of hot books or movies or songs on its server?

    And what if someone decides that they don’t like a particular political or religious slant a website takes and decides to target it, claiming they somehow violated copyright laws? Is there a review and appeal process by which the website can get “unbanned?” And, if so, who pays the expense of this appeal and review?

    I would never advocate piracy, but this is simply a chowder-headed way to go about preventing it. Because, in the end, it WON’T be prevented. Pirates have been around forever, and they always find a way around the system. Yet, surprisingly. people still manage to make money despite the piracy. I don’t see any record or movie or publishing executives starving.

    If you really want to be outraged, maybe you should put your outrage where it really belongs — with the businesses who exploit artists. And Google’s wings do NOT need to be clipped. If you think governments have the “person’s” best interest in mind, you’re woefully ignorant.

  9. Steve Boyett says:

    Y’all can cry and bitch all you want, but change is here, and you’d better find a way to capitalize on it, instead of attempting to cajole Congress to legislate a status that is no longer quo.

  10. Rowena Cherry says:

    William,

    I wonder whether you have read the proposed legislation and taken advantage of the opportunity offered on sites like Open Congress to comment, line by line.

    The trouble is, most of the pirate sites offer distorted, “potted” versions of the laws they don’t like.

    There are sites that do nothing but infringe copyright, all the time, all day, knowingly and without apology. They even make a selling point of the fact that what they are doing upsets publishers, and urge would-be readers to subscribe to their for-pay service, so they can find out about illegal uploads faster, and download the illegal books/movies/music as quickly as possible before the copyright owners find out about it and submit DMCAs to the hosting site.

    They have even started to supply the links to the infringing files ONLY to paid-up subscribers, which means that it is impossible for an author to send a DMCA… unless she knowingly provides her credit card to someone she knows is dishonest.

    Those are the sites that ought to be addressed.

    Suggest wording to the law. Suggest that xx number of valid DMCAs must be received before action is triggered. Go for some more liberal version of “Three Strikes And You Are…” off the ‘net. Make it 30 DMCAs. Make it 300. 3,000 even.

    Surely, there is some point at which we can all agree that a site is piratical and does not comply with the DMCA or Berne or its own stated Terms of Use and Terms of Service.

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