google-g-logompaa-logoHave Hollywood and the music moguls gone too far in asking search engines like Google to crack down on pirated content?riaa-logo

To address the issue of online piracy of movies and television shows, officials of the mighty Motion Picture Association of America Inc. (MPAA)  recently presented results of a new study concluding that search engines play an important role in introducing Internet-surfers to pirated content. MPAA used its study to argue that search engines should share in the communal responsibility of preventing the online theft of movies and films.

MPAA found that “74 percent of consumers surveyed cited using a search engine as a navigational tool the first time they arrived at a site with infringing content.” The study noted that the 58 percent of the searches that led to pirated content contained general key terms, like titles of TV shows and films. The industry group also found that 82 percent of searches that led to pirated content came from Google and suggests that the tech giant indirectly enables piracy.

While Google has declined to comment, the movie moguls aren’t the only ones seeing search engines in the blame game about pirated content an how and how it should be dealt with. Officials of the powerful Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) also recently pointed fingers at net search engines, with Cary Sherman, RIAA chair and CEO, asserting that “in order to make this digital marketplace truly work …voluntary initiatives with Internet intermediaries” must occur. Sherman said he will ask search engines to take a more active role to prevent online theft by working with the music industry and adopting successful voluntary initiatives.

Google has insisted that search is not central to this issue, saying it fights piracy by taking down copyright-infringing material as soon as it is notified.  Organizations like MPAA have disagreed and found Google’s efforts to be inefficient. It also is clear that, even with its formidable and renowned technological capabilities, Google is getting a tsunami of take-down requests and the law and the courts are struggling to figure exactly how to deal with these, too.