Music bodies attack Google for failing to take down piracy websites

The IFPI and RIAA called on Google to follow through its 2012 pledge to demote websites reported as infringing copyrights

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Two global music industry bodies have recently accused Google of not following through with its promise to take down piracy websites, accusing the global search engine of failing to adopt a strategy that tackles online piracy.

Frances Moore, CEO of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry [IFPI], and Cary Sherman, CEO of Recording Industry Association of America [RIAA] have published two separate articles urging Google to take five steps to combat online music piracy.

• “Fulfill the admirable promise to demote sites receiving extensive numbers of piracy notices”
• “Make sure that the “take down” of a song is meaningful - not repopulated online two seconds later”
• “Educate users by identifying authorized sites with a consumer-friendly ‘icon’”
• “Stop leading users to illegal sites through autocomplete”
• “Give your repeat offender policies some teeth”

Moore wrote that 100 million take-down notices were sent to Google in the past 2.5 years and this number he said was only a “fraction” copyright infringing websites because there is a limit on how many notices you can send to Google.

“Google, with its market capitalization of more than US$370 billion, is directing internet users to illegal sources of music.

This is not only harming a recording industry whose revenues have fallen by 40 per cent in the last decade to US$16.5 billion, but it is also harming the more than 500 licensed digital music services worldwide that offer up to 30 million tracks to internet users,” Moore added.

He said despite its pledge in August 2012 to demote websites reported as infringing music copyrights, the search engine has done little to combat music piracy.

“Unfortunately, the recording industry has seen no demonstrable demotion of sites that receive a high volume of piracy notices. If you search for an artist’s name and the term “mp3” on Google, the first page of results you get is still dominated by links to infringing sites.”

Sherman agrees, saying Google’s perceived promise was not “fulfilled.”

“Last summer, Google said it would ‘begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results.’” Sherman wrote.

“Unfortunately, this commendable promise remains unfulfilled. We’ve seen no demonstrable demotion of sites that receive a high volume of piracy notices,” he added.

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