Feeds

RIAA: Google failing on anti-piracy push

Six-month report card: FAIL

Boost IT visibility and business value

The Recording Industry Ass. of America has issued a report on Google's progress in cutting the availability of pirate websites in its search results, and the verdict isn't so much "could try harder" as "you are an utter failure," as this hack's Latin teacher once judged him.

"Our initial analysis concludes that so far Google's pledge six months ago to demote pirate sites remains unfulfilled," said Steven Marks, general counsel for the RIAA. "Searches for popular music continue to yield results that emphasize illegal sites at the expense of legitimate services, which are often relegated to later pages. And Google's auto-complete function continues to lead users to many of those same illicit sites."

Last August, Google said that it would skew its search results away from piracy sites by tweaking its algorithm to try to filter them out. But a team of (presumably very bored) RIAA researchers spent several weeks in December checking on the Chocolate Factory's progress – El Reg only hopes their Christmas party made up for it.

Google had made some progress, the RIAA acknowledged, but the search results are still tilted too much towards reporting sites Google itself has identified as being serial offenders in the piracy world. Such sites appeared in 98 per cent of the first page results of Google searches, compared to authorized download sites such as iTunes or Amazon that got on the front page around half the time.

Most of the sites identified are those about which the RIAA itself has sent at least 100,000 notices of infringement to Google. The report cited the efforts of its sister group, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which has sent Google notices of more than 350,000 instances of infringement about Zippyshare.com – and yet it still comes up in searches.

Surface Pro label

The RIAA's 100,000 club (click to enlarge)

The RIAA report expressed particular concern at these first-page search results, since research shows that nine out of 10 readers find what they want on that results page. If you go five pages into a search result, you will always find a link to sites that it has identified as pirate coves, it states.

Autocomplete in the search bar also gets a thumbs-down from the RIAA. The researchers searched for "MP3" or "Download" for the most popular Billboard tracks of the day, and 88 per cent of the time they got results from sites with at least 1,000 copyright notices against them in that crucial first page.

That said, Google gets over four million such notices each month, now that email has made the process virtually costless. The RIAA's post bill would have bankrupted the organization back in the days of dead-tree mail, and caused a lot of postmen to retire early on worker's comp. Such is progress.

"Based on the data described herein, the search rankings for sites for which Google has received large numbers of instances of infringement do not appear to have been demoted by Google's demotion signal in any meaningful way, at least with respect to searches for downloads or mp3s of specific tracks or artists," the report concludes.

The RIAA clearly isn't going to give up on this, and says it will continue the search analysis on Google's results. So we can, no doubt, expect an annual report to brighten up the month this coming August. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all
Enterprise, Windows still power firm's shaky money-maker
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.