Is it Google’s Responsibility to Censor Illegal Music Downloads?

December 22, 2011

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Image by Fey Ilyas

Go on, admit it – a lot of you have tried to save a penny or two at some point by downloading illegal pirated music. However, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has hit out at search giant Google – by claiming they aren’t doing enough to curb illegal downloads.

But surely asking Google to omit results that are suspected pirate sites is censorship – and that is some very ugly territory we would be getting into there.

Google have tried to put some measures into place: they try to remove illegitimate sites within six hours of notification from the copyright holder, and have shut down some 150,000 accounts of those who were trying to use Google’s pay per click ads to sell counterfeit merchandise.

But it isn’t really Google’s responsibility to curb piracy. According to Google’s Katherine Oyama:

“The only long-term way to beat piracy online is to offer consumers more compelling legitimate alternative.”

And who will have to make that alternative? Well, Google probably will give it a go at some point, let’s face it, this is Google we’re talking about here, but they certainly don’t have any moral obligation.

The internet has brought about many changes in the world: some good, some challenging. However, most of industry and commerce have shifted and adapted their business model to fit and even take advantage of the internet. The music industry simply has to do the same –it can’t blame the search engines for its inability to adapt.

This debate isn’t just raging on here – anybody with a Reddit account will be well aware of the SOPA (Stop Internet Piracy Act) injunction in the US – where the senate is pushing for the power to force traffic away from sites suspected of pirating American copyrighted works.

The problem is that a lot of innocent websites could get swept as collateral damage – and it would also mean internet service providers would have to monitor customer’s traffic. And again, we’re stumbling into dangerous territory.

Hollywood and the American music industry, quite understandably, back the bill, but pretty much everyone in Silicon Valley is up in arms, as it would change the way the internet works forever.

But the problem with all of these laws, rules and regulations is that they won’t stop those who really want to get their films and music for free.  Those who are illegally downloading music know that what they’re doing is illegal – but do they care?

Probably not. They’re just chuffed they didn’t pay anything for the latest releases.

What do you think? Should Google censor pirate sites? Let us know what you think about this controversial topic in the comments section below!

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