Feeds

RIAA: Google failing on anti-piracy push

Six-month report card: FAIL

Top three mobile application threats

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
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
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
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.