New MPAA Report Blames Google, Search Engines for Piracy

Online Piracy

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has completed a study of online piracy and traced a lot of it to Google services.

The MPAA claimed that many of the incidents of piracy it has seen could be pinned on search engines and suggested that takedown requests have a positive impact on its members.

No bets are hedged in the study's title, which is Understanding the Role of Search in Online Piracy (PDF).

"This study reaffirms the significant responsibility that search engines share with all of us in the Internet ecosystem to help prevent the theft of movies and TV shows online," said former U.S. Senator and MPAA chairman Chris Dodd.

"Search engines bear responsibility for introducing people to infringing content – even people who aren't actively looking for it. The television and movie community is working every day to develop new and innovative ways to watch content online, and as the Internet's gatekeepers, search engines share a responsibility to play a constructive role in not directing audiences to illegitimate content."

The report also is backed by U.S. House representatives Howard Coble, Adam Schiff, Marsha Blackburn, and Judy Chu.

Each of the politicians said that search companies should do more to protect copyright interests, and that they aid piracy without paying any penalties.

"I applaud the MPAA for their efforts to address online piracy of movies and television shows," Chu said. "It is clear from this study that search engines play a key role in connecting consumers with infringed content, undercutting the ability of creators to receive pay for their work. Online infringement diminishes our economic competitiveness and costs us jobs. As co-chair of Creative Rights Caucus, I am committed to fighting online piracy to preserve and protect the creative community."

Blackburn added that the Internet companies have a responsibility to live up to, and should choose whether they want to be enablers or guard dogs.

"Everyone in the online ecosystem has a responsibility to step up their efforts to protect creators and innovators from having their content literally hijacked for mass distribution without permission or compensation," Blackburn said. "The question search engines need to answer is this: do they want to be the digital highways for legitimate information, entertainment and education, or do they want to be the getaway car for stolen content and mass exploitation of private property? Leaders in technology innovation are in a unique position to do something serious and they're being called on to do better."

The report found that three quarters of respondents admitted using search engines as a route to their plundered content and that 58 percent of searches were generic hunts without any pirate tinged keywords. The majority of queries, 82 percent came from the largest search engine, Google.

Google doesn't appear to have made much of an effort to stop linking to download pages, according to the MPAA, and it said that referral traffic from Google to infringing websites has remained flat in the last three months.

This article was originally published on the Inquirer.