Google next up on the witness stand?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 7:29
Posted in category Tech Politics

With all of the hype and media attention (online anyway) surrounding The Pirate Bay’s trial, many individuals and groups had their eyes “opened” to one of the many widespread uses of the internet.  Now I’m not talking about piracy specifically, but more about file sharing in general - legal and illegal.  It seems that copyright holders and the world’s court systems are trying to increase their death grip on each respective industry they cater to by pushing politicians and local/national governments harder and harder or more laws that benefit the copyright holder.  Looking at TPB’s method of indexing, hosting, and indexing illegal content, many copyright holders, music labels, etc. are now starting to look at Google and assume that they do the same thing.  Could Google be up on the witness stand next?


Now in the case of Google, many people and groups are falsely comparing two completely different business models and companies.  One, TPB indexes, markets, and hosts many illegal files (and many legal as well), yet when confronted by individuals or companies with complaints about certain issues, laughs in their face and immaturely mocks said individual or company, not exactly keeping the peace here.  But why would anyone want to sue Google?  Many privacy advocates have already voiced displeasure with Google’s ever broadening reach into our lives with things such as Google Earth, Google Maps *with street view*, and an interest and emphasis on geo-tagging, especially on their in house Android devices just to name a few.  But in regards to piracy, it is a completely different ballpark than privacy.


During the Pirate Bay’s trial, many references to Google were made implying that Google operates along the same lines as Pirate Bay.  FIrst off, Google doesn’t actively seek out to index or “reveal” to the world through their search engine where and how to get the latest pirated files.  In fact, as soon as the whereabouts and details about certain pirated content are made known to Google, they remove the links from their search engines.  They fully cooperate and go on the offensive to fight piracy.  The Pirate Bay on the other hand actively fought for piracy.  How so?  They indexed, stored, hosted, marketed, and advertised everything that they did and offer - and most of what they offer isn’t exactly “legal”.  Sure you could get legal content on Pirate Bay, but the majority of traffic was for illegal material as that is where the real draw is.  No one likes parting with their money, but the artists of whatever content they create, do deserve some sort of compensation.  


Secondly, Google merely indexes websites on the internet.  They don’t host any files themselves.  They don’t index and then give special attention and privileges to links and/or sites with illegal material.  They simply create a catalog of the websites of the internet.  They are offering a simple service.  Pirate Bay on the other hand differed as they also hosted countless illegal files and file transfers.  The prosecutors in the Pirate Bay case have no idea how the internet works nor what they are talking about when they started comparing Google to The Pirate Bay - none whatsoever.  Indexing and hosting are two completely different things.  When Google indexes the web, it doesn’t keep any “files” on their own servers, (files that are downloadable/transferrable between public domains.)  It is more or less a snapshot.  They only thing the store, are the links that they have indexed.  Pirate Bay goes about this whole index and storing thing slightly different than Google.  While they don’t index quite like Google does, they do have an index of what uploaded files belong to which uploader along with other personal information.  However, they also host the uploaded files on their own servers as well as the file transfers that take place.  Going further, they encourage the sharing of said files and openly mock any one or group that comes to them and asks them to remove a certain file or files containing copyrighted material.  Openly mocking someone who is claiming you of theft isn’t exactly the brightest move of staying out of prison.  Nor is it the best method of laying low if you don’t want to draw attention to yourselves because you yourself know what you are doing is illegal.


Thirdly, when Google gets contacted by anyone who claim that a certain website or link they have indexed is one that aids and links to either pirated copyrighted materials or a site that encourages and hosts pirated copyrighted materials, Google responds accordingly and removes that site/link from their database.  The actually cooperate with the accuser.  Again, Pirate Bay takes a vastly different approach.  Again as mentioned above, they openly mock the accuser, and boast of how they are not breaking any laws and challenge any opponent to their business model.  As we all know now, someone did challenge, and that someone won.  With the “founding four” now looking at a year long prison term and several million dollars each in fines, the reality should have become a tad more real.  However as expected, an appeal is in the works which means sweet freedom will the founding four enjoy for at least another couple years as the appeal process is a long and laborious one.  Even still, the mockery continues as one of the founders made a now widely known joke highlighting that “not only movies are leaked now adays, but also verdicts”, referring to a member of the court leaking to him personally the guilty verdict hours before it was announced.


Sitting back and taking in what you have read, along with what you know about The Pirate Bay and Google, do you really honestly see any similarity between these two businesses?  The way they operate and conduct themselves is worlds apart.  Though, copyright holders while very often just trying to protect their work as they did in The Pirate Bay’s trial, will start to see money signs everywhere they look.  I personally believe that if/when Google gets sued and taken to court over some nonsense that tries to depict them as aiding in illegal file sharing, it will because of the vast amounts of money that Google has.  No longer will it simply be about simple copyrighted material, but about how much can we frame Google into looking like something that it is not, and how much money can we get.  Will we soon see Google facing the same type of trial accused of more or less the same accusations the Pirate Bay faced?  It is quite possible.  However, if a judge and jury find Google “guilty” of the same accusations, the world in which we live has finally reached the age of utter incompetence.  Many may say I could get along just fine without Google.  But could you really?  Look at their search database.  Sure we have others, but Google is by far and large the most popular.  Android is still a baby in the mobile marketplace, but it is beginning to make strides and is showing promise for the future.  Not to mention the numerous small organizations, companies, and other start-ups that Google is a part of means taking Google out of the equation would mean a great loss to society as well as more jobs in an economic time where job losses are already astronomically high.  Google and The Pirate Bay are not the same thing.  Will a jury see it the same way?


What is your opinion?  Am I getting somewhere, or am I wondering aimlessly in a field rolling around in a wheelchair with one wheel, endlessly going in circles?  Lawyers, intelligent people, leave your thoughts with us.


Source: Brian Puccio, *Image Source: Guam Supreme Court*

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One Response to “Google next up on the witness stand?”

  1. Topics about Single-moms | Google next up on the witness stand? says:

    April 22nd, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    [...] Donny Shaw added an interesting post on Google next up on the witness stand?Here’s a small excerptWith all of the hype and media attention (online anyway) surrounding The Pirate Bay’s trial, many individuals and groups had their eyes “opened” to one of the many widespread uses of the internet.  Now I’m not talking about piracy specifically, but more about file sharing in general - legal… [...]

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