RIAA, IFPI Consider Suing Google; Want the Search Engine To Censor Links

Audio_cassette_tapes.jpg
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the Recording Industry Association of America might sue Google, saying that the web behemoth has used its search engine service to shape the online music market in a way trade groups do not like.

These recording industry giants have pressured Google to "degrade" links to alleged "pirate" websites in search results, TorrentFreak reports. They say that Google has profited from illegal internet file sharing by failing to do so.

IFPI has now gone so far as to seek a legal opinion on the issue -- the group wants to know whether courts can make Google censor links.

The prospect of legal action is surprising -- especially considering that Google has typically been willing to work with the recording industry.

But a confidential doc examined by TorrentFreak shows that Google gave record labels a "special online interface that allows for mass queries to be marked as infringing."

The result of this interface: IFPI complained about 460,000 Google search results from August to December 2011, TorrentFreak notes, and also urged Google to shutdown "hundreds" of Blogger sites.

Because Google has not censored links to infringing content, industry groups have considered bringing the company before a judge.

"IFPI obtained a highly confidential and preliminary legal opinion in July 2011 on the possibility of bringing a competition law complaint against Google for abuse of its dominant position, given the distortion of the market for legitimate online music that is likely to result from Google's prioritizing of illegal sites," TorrentFreak notes.

More, the recording industry thinks that Google violates antitrust law by letting the algorithm do its work. The industry wants search engines to adopt a "Voluntary Code of Practice" that drives more traffic -- and ranking -- to legal file-sharing sites.

TorrentFreak claims that Google might face a lawsuit if they don't go along with these demands.

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.


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4 comments
Myriam_Breitman
Myriam_Breitman

Cool picture of a cassette. Reminds me of my childhood. Which interestingly enough wasn't that long ago. 

Guest
Guest

Tough shit. The RIAA lost the SOPA fight so now they are looking for ways around it. Fuck them. 

Not that Anonymous
Not that Anonymous

I don't think the IFPI or the RIAA understand how search engines work. Blocking direct infringing links from appearing on a search query may work sure... but what about references on other sites which indirectly link back to such sites? Does Google have to block them too? And what about sites which indirectly link back to the site which indirectly links back to that site.... where does it end. Okay maybe that is a tad extreme, but the fact is blocking sites from appearing in search queries is utterly pointless as it will not block references to said sites from appearing in searches which can still display unaffiliated sites containing those references. This is just another example of the RIAA solidifying its belief that 'google runs the internet', which it doesn't obviously.

mirele
mirele

IFPI will have to sue Google. One of the basic, fundamental aspects of American law is that judges do not issue advisory opinions. There has to be real or reasonably threatened injury. 

As for whether or not IFPI would win a lawsuit, I think Google could possibly defeat them based on the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But the bottom line is that IFPI is going to have to file suit.

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