End Piracy? As if…

Think back to January 18, 2012, the day Internet companies led a blackout (it was more gray really) of  their websites in protest against the dreaded SOPA & PIPA bills.  On that day, Google backed a petition with a slogan that sounded so reasonable.  It said, End Piracy, Not Liberty.  It was classically effective because they could count on anyone who wasn’t paying close attention to the issue — and that would be nearly everybody — to think the message makes sense, that of course, companies like Google want to end piracy as long as the methods don’t threaten liberty.  Who wouldn’t agree with that?

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Of course, Google had no intention of doing a damn thing about piracy, and they knew that millions of people who clicked on that petition two years ago wouldn’t be paying attention to the matter by the morning of January 20th.  And since that day, which has been treated as the web industry’s Alamo and Yorktown in one, Google and friends have steadily promoted piracy, which I believe is the opposite of ending it.  So, I guess what I’m saying is that headline, which drew millions of pavlovian clicks, was unalloyed bullshit.  As mentioned a couple of posts ago, a Google search on the term “movie piracy,” takes you to what is now the top result only because Google wants it to be the top result.  I refer you to the earlier post, but this link will take you to an article written in support of  an anti-copyright, libertarian, Koch-funded organization that just happens to be wonderful for Google’s bottom line.  I don’t care if you hate copyright, this is just a tiny example of how dangerous it can be to have one company presume to “organize the world’s information.”  To serve whom exactly?

© 2013, David Newhoff. All rights reserved.

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6 comments

  • As mentioned a couple of posts ago, a Google search on the term “movie piracy,” takes you to what is now the top result only because Google wants it to be the top result.

    That’s an interesting allegation David. Perhaps I’m misinterpreting you, but you are saying this result exists because someone at Google forced it there? And not a consequence of it simply being a highly ranked result their normal ranking algorithm picked up for that search term? This seems to be a pretty damning allegation if it is true. My question would be:

    Do you have proof?

    • There’s nothing to misinterpret. I’m accusing Google of using its ownership of search to foster political sentiment that serves its bottom line. The fact that I can neither prove nor disprove this accusation is something that should be of concern and part of the larger question I pose. Namely, what’s to stop a company as pervasive as Google from doing this? Because they say everything they do is in the best interest of the people? We used to protect the integrity of news by limiting the number of outlets one company can own. Now, one company effectively owns all of search worldwide, and I think it’s problem. Can I prove that an article with a fairly unoriginal theme, published on 10/15 is artificially at the top of today’s list over a news story that broke a few hours ago about a Swedish movie pirate getting hit with a big fine? No. But it does beg the question as to what relevance means when it comes to search.

      • Much as I’d like to bash Google with a spiked club. I don’t get this result from the UK. There are no pro piracy links on the first page of results.

      • Fair enough. Not to get too nuts about it, but the policy wonks represented by the article are all about U.S. law; and I believe so much of this is about reaching lawmakers as they continue copyright review in the coming year.

      • Alternatively, it’s there because Google News has always had Washington Post as one of its top sources. Occam’s Razor.

        There’s more then enough reasons to kick Google without needing to resort to this kind of green ink conspiracy theorising. In fact, I’d argue that it lets them off the hook by turning our gaze away from what we do know about them. Issues like how they choose the sources in the first place and the wider effect of them aggregating other people’s stories.

        The fact that I can neither prove nor disprove this accusation is something that should be of concern and part of the larger question I pose.

        I’ve heard very similar arguments used by 9/11 troofers, creationists and global warming denialists.

        Careful with that abyss gazing…

  • M wrote:
    “…you are saying this result exists because someone at Google forced it there? And not a consequence of it simply being a highly ranked result their normal ranking algorithm picked up for that search term?”

    Assuming on faith that there is any distinction between these two options seems a little more than naive.

    Where do you suppose the algorithms come from?

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