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Google in 'better' copyright protection vow

Music and TV giant kiss-up

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As it seeks to make nice with the big name record labels, TV networks, and movie studios, Google has announced that it's working to provide better protection against online copyright infringement. At least in four small ways.

"As the web has grown, we have seen a growing number of issues relating to infringing content. We respond expeditiously to requests to remove such content from our services, and have been improving our procedures over time," Google general counsel Kent Walker said in a blog post. "But as the web grows, and the number of requests grows with it, we are working to develop new ways to better address the underlying problem."

For one, the company says it will improve its DMCA takedown system, reducing its average response time to 24 hours or less – "for copyright owners who use the tools responsibly." But at the same time, Google will improve its tools for those would wish to challenge a DMCA takedown with a counter notice.

The new tools will be applied to Google Search and Blogger first, with other services to follow.

Walker also said that the company will remove terms that are "closely associated with piracy" from its search auto-complete tool, work harder to remove copyright infringing websites from making money off its AdSense advertising program, and experiment with ways to make authorized previews of copyrighted content "more accessible" in its search results. "Most users want to access legitimate content and are interested in sites that make that content available to them (even if only on a preview basis)," Walker says. "We’ll be looking at ways to make this content easier to index and find.

At least one music industry giant is pleased – but only up to a point. "It is encouraging that Google is beginning to respond to our calls to act more responsibly with regard to illegal content," a BPI spokesman said in a statement sent to The Reg. "However, this package of measures, while welcome, still ignores the heart of the problem - that Google search overwhelmingly directs consumers looking for music and other digital entertainment to illegal sites.

“We call on Google to work actively with us to implement a technical solution that points music fans to sites that reward artists and everyone involved in creating music.”

As the owner of YouTube, Google has come under heavy fire from the music, TV, and movie giants for its treatment of copyright, and prior to purchasing the video sharing site in 2006, even Google execs described it as a "rogue enabler of content theft." The next year, Viacom, home to MTV and Comedy Central, filed a $1bn copyright suit against Google and YouTube.

Google won the case earlier this year, and it now licenses some copyrighted content for use on YouTube. But it's hoping to further improve relations with the music, TV, and movie giants. Mountain View is working to license tunes from the labels for its own online music service, and it's negotiating with TV and movie types to stop them from blocking access to online content on its fledging television platform, Google TV. ®

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