Several major UK entertainment industry groups have accused Google and Bing of directing searchers to illegal content. The groups involved include the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the Motion Picture Association (MPA), the Premier League, the Publishers Association and a TV/film trade group called the Pact.
And they have a very valid point. On September 26, 2011 for instance, the BPI made test searches on Google for the name of each of the UK’s top 20 singles and albums, followed in each case by the word ‘mp3′. On average, 16 of the first 20 Google results for charts singles and 15 of the top 20 search results for chart albums linked to known illegal sites. You could say it’s a matter of smart SEO from the side of the illegal websites, but that’s not the complete story as Google still offers results for combinations that can only lead to illegal sites (Apple still doesn’t use ‘torrent’ as far as we know, nor does Amazon).
It’s a widespread problem for many labels, even for those who are very open-minded and embrace the likes of Spotify, Deezer and rdio. These companies still get a ton of negative comments from old school labels that think they are not being paid enough through these innovators.
In the case of Google and Bing, someone is getting paid royally: Google and Bing who both put sponsored links next to the results and on the websites themselves. You wouldn’t want to know the number of illegal sites that have Google’s adsense on them… millions.
Although these UK entertainment industry groups don’t go that far as to demand payment from Google (something they could and should ask perhaps), they do ask that both search engines would respect a ‘Code of Practice’.
What does this code involve?
- assign lower rankings to sites that repeatedly make available unlicensed content in breach of copyright
- prioritize (i.e., give better rankings/visibility to) websites that obtain certification as a licensed site for content downloading
- stop indexing websites that are subject to court orders and create procedures to de-index substantially infringing websites
- improve the notice and takedown system and ensure that searchers aren’t sent to illegal sites via suggested searches, related searches and suggested sites
- ensure that search engines don’t advertise illegal sites, place advertising on them, or profit from selling keywords related to illegal sites
- ensure that they don’t profit from selling mobile apps that encourage infringement
Google might be in a bit of an extra problem there as there entire Blogger platform is infested with illegal MP3 blogs. So far they only made an effort in battling online music piracy by launching the Google Music store in November 2011, in the US that is. So far the success is somewhat similar to that of Google+… Time to do an extra effort Google!