back to article Google's boffins branded 'unacceptably ineffective' at tackling web piracy

Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has harshly criticised the government and Google in a report into the UK's creative industries. The MPs want the 2010 Digital Economy Act - which cracks down on downloaders of pirated material and other copyright infringers - activated without further delay. And the panel …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Eponymous Cowherd
    Unhappy

    Effective reading....

    Just replace "We" with "Our paymasters" in the quotes and you'll pretty much have the truth of it.

  2. Tromos

    A coherent responsible answer

    It is relatively easy to remove sites offering 'naked kiddies' or whatever the term du jour is, as ALL these sites are illegal. Not so easy when the search term is 'Justin Bieber' (but by all means remove all of these too, especially the ones belonging to RIAA members).

    1. Aqua Marina

      Re: A coherent responsible answer

      Would be just as easy to block "justin bieber never say never torrent".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A coherent responsible answer

        "Would be just as easy to block "justin bieber never say never torrent"."

        ...and useless, because if it caused a problem, they'd be t0rrents, or torents, or trnts, or rapids, or... or...

        The Chinese government already spends oodles of time uselessly playing whack-a-mole like that - around the Tienanmen Square anniversary, the ad-hoc shorthand people used to get around the filters evolved so rapidly that they ended up blocking searches for rubber ducks. It gets broader and broader and more and more ridiculous every time around; IIRC they came close to the point of censoring florists due to discussion of the Arab Spring. Get it? Revolution = spring, spring = flower, flower = florist?

        So what happens when you do this kind of thing is that the people pirating music still get their Bieber but the garden supply industry suffers a 15% year-on-year revenue drop.

        Not a winning policy.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: A coherent responsible answer

          But the thing is, the same things you describe can be used by CP flingers to get around censors, yet Google appears to be much more aggressive in closing those links than they are in closing piracy rings. So it DOES smack of a double standard. Unless Google can explain clearly what's so different about CP that they can clamp those down and not pirates, they'll be looking like a Janus.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A coherent responsible answer

            What's different about CP?

            1) It's always illegal. It's not like the issue is that people are stealing it instead of taking the moral high road and signing up for, like, a CP streaming service, or something.

            B) There's a lot less CP than Bieber out there (or at least, I would hope so... I mean, kinda, but... well, you know what I mean).

            III) It stands to reason that the people who are trading CP a lot probably make more effort to hide their tracks already, so the only ones that show up on Google to begin with are already morons as well as bastards, and have probably made a lot of other mistakes too.

            0000100) If Google finds a forum that's 80% normal stuff and 20% people linking to music torrents in some thread, or whatever, and delists it, there'll be hell to pay, because there will be plenty of people who will step up and say, hey, you don't take down the whole forum because of this. At the very least it'll be a pain in the ass for Google. But if there's a forum that's 80% normal stuff and 20% CP, nobody's going to stand up and be like, "Hey, it's not so bad around here as long as you avoid the child molesters!". The odds of encountering PR or legal complications when delisting sites that would prefer anonymity anyway are a lot lower than for normal things, I would think.

    2. Mtech25
      Devil

      Re: A coherent responsible answer

      I got to agree as a first to stopping piracy we should remove all, internet links to Justin Beiber and One direction immediately I see no point in carry out any other anti piracy measure until this is in place.

  3. Pete 2

    Ask one back

    And why can't copier-paper manufacturers create paper that "knows" when you're trying to make a photocopy of something you shouldn't?

    To the to the truly ignorant, everything has a simple solution.

    1. Aqua Marina

      Re: Ask one back

      Colour photocopiers know when you are trying to copy money. Every colour copier I've used in the last 20 years has stopped this. Technical solutions are readily available for specific instances.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Ask one back

        Technical solutions are readily available for specific instances.

        Yep, but copyright infringement is a collection of specific instances. To maintain due process you'd have to get a judge to sign off every website you wanted to switch off and this would be open to appeal.

      2. NomNomNom

        Re: Ask one back

        I used to have a biro that wouldnt let me write the number 12

    2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Ask one back

      The do. Not the paper, but the photo copiers. Strange but true fact: The world is stranger than you realize!

      (LMGTFY link) http://bit.ly/15wAhF9

    3. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: Ask one back

      Messrs Kruger & Dunning will bear you out.

    4. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Ask one back

      "why can't copier-paper manufacturers create paper that "knows" when you're trying to make a photocopy of something you shouldn't?"

      The paper isn't that smart but (some of?) the copiers are - try making a colour scan or copy of a banknote.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Ask one back

        I've scanned in banknotes before - maybe its just the (more expensive?) copiers that are the problem.

        1. Mtech25
          Thumb Up

          Re: Ask one back

          Most if not all copiers these days are forensically marked so even if you do print a bank note and manage to get your hands on the right paper they can still track you down.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Ask one back

          @Tom 7

          I've scanned in banknotes before - maybe its just the (more expensive?) copiers that are the problem.

          I think the problem comes when you try and print them. Some bright spark realised pretty early on how important it would be to keep the lid on fake notes and got everyone to sign up.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ask one back

            As an Ex-canon engineer, the first colour photocopiers had bank note images stored in ROM, as well as the new (then) £20 notes being predominantly purple, as this colour was the most difficult to reproduce on the new copiers.

          2. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Ask one back

            "I think the problem comes when you try and print them. Some bright spark realised pretty early on how important it would be to keep the lid on fake notes and got everyone to sign up."

            And how did they convince the firms operating outside the country? Import restrictions? What about international bank note copying (copying notes from another country and then moving them over there)? What if there's a note re-issue (the US now refreshes notes $5 and greater every few years).

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ask one back

      At least when I photocopy my arse I know I own the copyright to it. However Claire Perry will have be onto the copier manufactures and had an arse copy filter installed so just a blank sheet comes out.

  4. ratfox Silver badge

    Duh

    I think they should read again the company's mission statement. Not the thing about evil; the one about making the world's information universally and easily accessible.

    Not showing things that are on the web goes directly against everything Google does; it's understandable that they are not trying hard to shoot themselves in the foot.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple Reason

    If Google couldn't be used to search for pirated stuff then it's obvious that a big chunk of their advertising revenue will disappear. As the ultimate non-creator of content they have zero interest in protecting other peoples'. In fact they rely entirely on putting people through to the work of others, legit or not.

    1. Bill Neal
      Devil

      Re: Simple Reason

      It is even deeper than that. Google advertises Play and Chromebooks within android apps like the one for Kickass Torrents

  6. Busby

    So why don't Google block infringing websites?

    Probably because it's not their place to determine what is and isn't legal and if they started acting that way there would be a huge uproar.

    Also there's the fact they make a lot of advertising revenue serving those results so driving pirates to someone else's search engine would lose them a small fortune.

    Wasn't there something mentioned when they started blocking kiddy porn that the system wouldn't be used to block other things?

    1. Persona non grata

      Not to mention, copyright laws are different in every country. You're asking them to enforce a mix of criminal and civil laws with multiple interpretations across multiple jurisdictions.

      That's going to be so simple to do...

      And it's still only desirable if you're an entity with a vested interest in a prescriptive reading of the current legal systems, which is a hugely minority position.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        "Not to mention, copyright laws are different in every country. You're asking them to enforce a mix of criminal and civil laws with multiple interpretations across multiple jurisdictions."

        Can't the same be said about CP laws? After all, there are differing ages of consent and differing attitudes toward the practice. It's not like there's a universal standard here, either.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Can't the same be said about CP laws? After all, there are differing ages of consent and differing attitudes toward the practice."

          I'm not a lawyer (thank goodness), but bizarrely, my recollection is that consent for *photographs* is almost universally 18, regardless of the age of consent for sex. I think there are plenty of states in the US where the AOC is 16 (can't say it's ever come up for me... uh...) but that doesn't change CP laws. So you can have sex with her and it's hunky dory, but if you take a picture you're a monster. :P

          Part of the thing with CP is that people get really irrational about it, and it becomes politically untenable to support any reform, even if it's common sense stuff like, "Hey, maybe a 17-year-old girl who takes a naked selfie isn't in the same category as a greasy sleazebag who grooms 10-year-olds and sells photos online".

          People will speak out when copyright stuff is crazy, but not so much for CP. So even if Google or whoever *is* blocking stuff that's perfectly legal in some jurisdictions, nobody's gonna raise hell about it - I mean, think about it: You live in a state where the AOC is 16; are you going to put your name on a petition suggesting that it should be legal for 16-year-olds to do porn? Maybe that'd be better than advocating looser copyright laws if all your neighbors were Andrew Orlowski clones, but not in the real world...

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            "I'm not a lawyer (thank goodness), but bizarrely, my recollection is that consent for *photographs* is almost universally 18, regardless of the age of consent for sex. I think there are plenty of states in the US where the AOC is 16 (can't say it's ever come up for me... uh...) but that doesn't change CP laws. So you can have sex with her and it's hunky dory, but if you take a picture you're a monster. :P"

            You assume the laws and customs are the same everywhere you go. Consider, until recently a girl could appear nude in Germany's Bravo Magazine as early as 14. Even now, it's still only 16 where other countries can insist on 18 or even 20. Which shows some countries take a looser stance on the subject (and it's not considered a big thing by the populace) as long as it's known the participants are willing. And last I checked, standards and customs in Asian countries can be even more varied.

            So, like copyright, you have a problem of conflicting standards. And that doesn't address the issue that if copyright dodgers can change their names, use codewords, and so on to hide from Google, why can't the CP'ers do the same thing: turn the business into a game of Whack-A-Mole while hiding out in countries that won't extradite for CP?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    because...

    those links generate income for Google etc?

    ...

    oh, sorry, I wasn't meant to be stating the obvious - this is the copyrighted domain of the MPs...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    pssst hey Sonny.. yeah you..

    Do you want some dodgy downloads? ... just sign up with some smaller isp who doesn't have the money or inclination to add tracking.. see TPB is still there!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really?

    If I have read that right they say that they want Google to reduce piracy by removing infringing material from its search results?

    Does anyone actually use Google for looking for copywriter material?

  10. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  11. Steve Knox
    Facepalm

    Shills

    We do not believe it to be beyond the wit of the engineers employed by Google and others to demote and, ideally, remove copyright-infringing material from search engine results. Google co-operates with law enforcement agencies to block child pornographic content from search results and it has provided no coherent, responsible answer as to why it cannot do the same for sites which blatantly, and illegally, offer pirated content.

    Removal of copyright-infringing sites is not difficult.

    Identifying which sites actually infringe copyright is incredibly difficult. Google has taken a very responsible position here in that they don't simply rely on the purported rights-holder's allegation, but instead do some work to verify the situation before acting. This is a necessary check, as copyright holders have shown that they have no qualms about abusing takedown requests.

    This is a very different situation than illegal pornography: in that case the takedown requestor is the authority. As much as they would like to be, copyright owners are not the authority on what infringes their IP. They have shown repeatedly that when given such authority, they abuse it.

    To put forth this parallel without acknowledging this very obvious distinction belies these politicians' true motivations.

  12. Demosthenese

    Future Prosperity

    "We are deeply concerned ... could cause irreversible damage to the creative sector on which the United Kingdom’s future prosperity will significantly depend," the MPs warn.

    If our future prosperity significantly depends on Harry Potter and the latest X-Factor pop, then we are indeed truly fucked.

  13. JimmyPage Silver badge
    FAIL

    Oranges are not the only fruit

    and Google are not the only search engine. Although I'd be quite happy if our elected representatives believed they were.

    What about Yahoo! ? Bing ? Not sure if Magellan or Altavista still exist, but this could be a great incentive for their revival.

    Or - heaven forfend - what if a bunch of people donated some CPU time to a crowdsourced search engine with a distributed database. Try and shut *that* down ....

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Oranges are not the only fruit

      Altavista was closed earlier this year, IIRC, some time after being eventually bought indirectly by Yahoo!.

      As for your distributed search engine idea, that has potential flaws. It's like with Freenet, things can drop off the map, plus there may be ways to attack the infrastructure or poison the results.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Oranges are not the only fruit

      "... what if a bunch of people donated some CPU time to a crowdsourced search engine with a distributed database[?]"

      I like this idea - when can we start?!

    3. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Oranges are not the only fruit

      "Or - heaven forfend - what if a bunch of people donated some CPU time to a crowdsourced search engine with a distributed database. Try and shut *that* down ...."

      If you really want to look into such a thing, look up YaCy (http://www.yacy.net/)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Why can't Google's clever boffins KILL web links to pirated stuff, fume MPs"

    or

    Why SHOULD Google be responsible for killing web links to pirated stuff!

    MPs are thick!

  15. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Alternatives?

    1 - while we are doing our best to put in place the legal framework so everyone can benefit from the t'net and t'web it would be wonderful if google would support us. We cannot do it on our own and need other partners to help us.

    2 - (well anything would be better than what MPs seem to be doing - sounding off sounds so much like sounding off whereas looking for solutions seems a whole lot better?)

  16. Pirate Dave Silver badge
    Pirate

    An idea from an ignorant American

    So why doesn't the British government build their own search engine, then install a country-wide firewall that blocks access to Google and redirects that traffic to the new British firewall? That way your government can tightly control the search results you guys get.

    Just an idea, probably bad...

    1. Richard 23

      Re: An idea from an ignorant American

      I thought China had the copyright on that? We wouldn't want to pirate that idea, would we?

    2. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: An idea from an ignorant American

      Actually, I suspect this is what 95% of our MPs genuinely think is possible.

      You know the old joke about a jury being made of 12 people too stupid to avoid jury duty ? Well the matching political axiom is that parliament is made up of people too stupid to do real work.

      I suspect a 3 question grilling would reveal that the majority of MPs struggle with the distinction between Google search results and the fact that they aren't hosted by google ... do you remember when you were learning about computers, and had to distinguish between A and (A) ??????

    3. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: An idea from an ignorant American

      They tried that with the Pirate Bay. Guess what happened? People outside Britain started opening Pirate Bay proxies and mirrors, turning the whole business into a game of Whack-A-Mole. Knock one down, someone else raises another, and many of them could be in countries where the UK (or even the EU) can't exert influence to block. Then there's the idea of TOR'ing to the Pirate Bay, which means it's relayed a few times (usually to different countries), so the UK loses there, too.

  17. Jock

    Why cannot the banks instantly refund known Phishing scams, pretend 'Microsoft' security scams and coercion emails when people are suckered by these well known frauds?

  18. The Grump
    Pint

    Dunno what MP's are...

    (probably not Military Police - that's what MP means here in the US of A). However, they sound a lot like our idiot Democrats in Congress. They want to pass legislation to force automobile manufacturers to invent a 100 MPG car by around noon next week, or some impossible date like that. Both MP's and Democrats seem to be amazed when they want us to do something impossible (with current technology), and we don't "Just do it".

    Let the MP's look for copyright violations, full time - an give their jobs to guys that will give you a free pint and salted peanuts every day. Beer, cos I like beer.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Dunno what MP's are...

      MP = Member of Parliament - elected representatives to our lower house, equivalent to your congress.

      1. Gannon (J.) Dick

        Re: Dunno what MP's are...

        "... equivalent to your congress."

        No wonder we rebelled.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dunno what MP's are...

          "... equivalent to your congress."

          Oh, come on - I'm sure you Brits elect some terrible legislators, but there's no reason to insult them quite that severely.

  19. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Google co-operates with law enforcement agencies to block child pornographic content from search results and it has provided no coherent, responsible answer as to why it cannot do the same for sites which blatantly, and illegally, offer pirated content.

    When law enforcement hand over a list of webpages that a court has agreed are illegally offering content, Google will already remove those pages from search results.

    The problem is that these clowns want to do it without the court order.

  20. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  21. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    The MPs also want...

    "The MPs also want jail terms for copyright infringement - not for casual freetards, it appears, but for commercial-scale operators such as Anton Vickerman. They note that the successful prosecution of Vickerman, who operated a site called SurfTheChannel, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud, rather than copyright infringement."

    So ... they concede that existing laws have been successfully used against exactly the group that they wish to target, but want new laws that will also apply to people who they say that they don't want to target.

    Sheesh! It's just as well that breathing is an autonomic function, isn't it?

  22. The Dude
    FAIL

    Canadian government violates copyright too

    It can't be any worse than what the Canadian government does. A Canadian government agency copied and republished (in a Defamatory "opinion" piece) some artwork from one of my websites, and despite their admission that they did so without permission, they refuse to discuss the matter. The vast resources of lawyers and money (our money) at their disposal make this a nearly impossible situation to rectify. To add insult to injury, the government agency is overseen by Heritage Department, which is the same department that governs Copyrights.

    So, perhaps the copyright conundrum in Britain (or is it England? I always forget.) is due to the "all for me and none for you" attitude prevalent within all governments of all the "Great Western Democracies".

  23. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Tough call. One side is ignorant and/or stupid. The other is greedy and smart.

    It is not Google's job to block copyright infringement, which is a civil matter, not criminal.

    But OTOH that review sounded as the yoof might put it "Well bent."

    And the "Digital Economy" act was one of the Dark Lords pet projects, so by definition highly suspect.

  24. Brian

    Real world problem

    Copyright problems exist outside of the internet, so why is the internet being treated different? If I make a movie and sell it at a big box, but some jerk buys the movie and makes copies and sells them in a store, on the street, etc, we don't go after the yellow pages, road builders, or other companies that are used to find and access the company providing illegal goods, so why do we do that on the internet? Doesn't make any sense to me.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Real world problem

      I totally agree with your logic, but I must point out the fallacy in your opinion : real world problems require real world solutions - and that typically demands time and resources allocated to solve the issue.

      The Internet is an exception. On the Internet, anything possible is a fair target, whether or not it is morally or legally justified. That is why you have ebook stores that can go and wipe a title you purchased from your Kindle (or whatever). In the real world, that would mean sending someone to your house to wait for your permission to come in and take back the book - permission which you would be at liberty to not give. But, because it is possible on the Internet, said Ebook stores have taken that right without asking if we like it.

      It literally enrages me when I think about it, all the things that are taken for granted on the Internet that, if they were applied to the real world, would certainly result in major confrontations between people and corporations. As long as corporations remain the major lobbying force, I doubt that anything will change.

    2. Steve Knox
      Boffin

      Re: Real world problem

      Copyright problems exist outside of the internet, so why is the internet being treated different[ly]?

      Because the internet and related technologies allow for a) less expensive copying, b) more efficient distribution, and c) easier avoidance of conseqences.

      If you make a movie, and I buy it and make and sell physical copies, I still need (a) to purchase physical media to write the copies to and (b) a physical location (storefront, park, street corner, post office box) to exchange the copies and money. I'm also limited in how many copies I can make and distribute because of the speed limitations of (a) my burning device and (b) the exchange method. Finally, (c) you can work with/without the authorities to track me down and shut/burn down my storefront, cancel my PO box, harass my "customers" or break my kneecaps as a friendly warning. Sure I can limit myself to semi-random street corner/back alley type locations, but that affects distribution significantly.

      On the internet, though, there are (a) freeware rippers/encoders, free online storage sites, protocols like (b) Bittorrent to balance the distribution load and (c) Tor to make tracking uploaders/downloaders more difficult. Piracy sites also often have multiple servers/domains and can be backed up so that if they do get taken down or removed from search engines, they can be brought back up or back into search engine listings under a different name in short order.

      So the internet does represent a real threat to the current model of intellectual property protection, one orders of magnitude greater than that of physical piracy. But if you've been paying attention, you'll note that none of the policy posturing by politicians even comes close to addressing the root cause. Even if Google were forced to remove every link copyright holders identified as pirate sites, the sites would be back in the database the next day under a different domain name, perhaps with a change in design to avoid fingerprint detection.

      The reason they don't address the root cause is because they can't, because it's nothing new. Sure the internet makes copying so much easier, but before that DVD-R,CD-R, and scanners did. And before that VHS, cassettes, and photocopiers. And coming up , 3-D scanners and printers. The only difference is the scale.

      A new model is needed to deal with the technological changes, but the 2010 Digital Economy Act simply tries to prop up the old model by battling technology with draconian penalties. The Hargreaves review does propose a new model, but IMHO not a very good one. Any ideas?

  25. Vociferous

    Censorship enthusiasts

    are thirteen to the dozen in the UK government. Why is there no civil rights organizations like ACLU or EFF pushing back at these stooges of an already rapacious industry?

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Censorship enthusiasts

      Because the media space has already been filled with an atmosphere of "if you object you must have some sinister agenda" usually in the same breath as "paedophile", or "terrorist" depending on the sound of your name, and colour of your skin.

      The only place you'll get a libertarian view is more off-grid ... blogs, twitter, Facebook ... that is all the places the government want's to bring under it's control.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019