Google has released a new report that sheds light on the various ways in which the company is attempting to combat piracy.
The search giant says it has adopted a ‘follow the money’ approach, with the aim of “[starving] infringing sites of their income”. It is also trying to reduce piracy through illicit Kodi addons and boxes, but admits that this has been challenging.
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According to the report (via ZDNet), titled ‘How Google Fights Piracy’, the Google-made ad blocker that was added to Chrome earlier this year has been a useful weapon in the company’s battle against pirates.
“Google has joined other industry leaders in the ‘follow the money’ approach to fight online piracy by ejecting infringing sites from Google’s advertising services and promoting industry-wide advertising standards through groups like the Coalition for Better Ads,” the report reads.
“We’ve also built an ad blocker into the Chrome browser that filters ads from web pages that do not comply with industry quality standards, as anecdotal evidence suggests these ads are disproportionately found on infringing sites.
“The end result—a virtuous cycle produced by better incentives for legitimate businesses—reaches far beyond Google’s own ad networks.”
The search giant says that the popularity of pirate Kodi addons and fully-loaded Kodi boxes has shown “both the challenge and the importance of a balanced approach in the fight against piracy”, since Kodi itself is perfectly legal.
Still, Google says it “has taken a number of steps to prevent this form of piracy”, including the removal of set-top boxes with “suspicious add-ons” from Google Shopping, and sweeping the Play Store for “apps with pre-installed Kodi add-ons that give access to infringing sites” and removing them before they are made available to users.
It also removed ‘Kodi’ from Google Search autocomplete back in March.
However, the company has some strong words for copyright claimants.
“Some of the copyright takedown requests we receive are flawed, incomplete, or downright abusive,” the report says, adding that “detecting inaccurate or abusive notices can be challenging” .
In 2017, Google says, YouTube received more than 2.5 million DMCA takedown requests calling for the removal of more than 7 million video URLs. YouTube “either asked for more information or rejected requests” targeting more than 300,000 of those videos.
Similarly, Google says it either refused to remove or reinstated more than 54 million webpages from search results in 2017. Here’s a handful of examples:
- An individual claiming to be a candidate for political office in Egypt filed a copyright complaint to delist two pages on Egyptian news sites reporting on the individual’s arrest record
- An anti-piracy enforcement firm representing a music label filed a copyright complaint asking to delist a number of articles discussing the release of the work in question, presumably because the word “download” appeared in the text of the article
- A Ukrainian politician sent Google a copyright complaint regarding the use of his image in a number of articles critical of his performance in office
- A well-known publisher of children’s books sent a takedown notice targeting the use of excerpts by a critic discussing the use of gun imagery in children’s literature
However, effective as valid DMCA takedown requests can be, Google has stressed that its ‘follow the money’ approach is the one it sees the most potential in.
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“Search engines do not control what is on the web. Hundreds of billions of webpages are organized in Google’s index, and there will always be new sites dedicated to making copyrighted works available as long as there is money to be made doing so,” the report adds.
“Replicating these sites is easy and inexpensive, and attempts to make them disappear should focus on eradicating the business model that supports them.”
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