Spring is in the air in the UK – a time for optimism and harmony throughout the land.
Unless, that is, you’re a major recorded music rights-holder getting fed up with watching your designated trade body send a ludicrous amount of takedown requests to Google.
Over the Easter weekend, the UK’s BPI issued its 200 millionth such demand to Google – every one, it says, targeting a searchable link which infringed on an owned copyright.
As a result, BPI CEO Geoff Taylor publicly called on Google to change its infringement policy to ‘notice and stay down’; effectively ensuring that any infringing link removed from Google’s search results doesn’t then creep its way back online.
Google responded by telling MBW that it had already tweaked its algorithm to demote infringing sites, and that it had actually reviewed more than 80m links to pirated content in the past month alone.
Then, a stylish kiss-off from the tech giant: “Search is not the primary problem – all traffic from major search engines accounts for less than 16% of traffic to sites like The Pirate Bay.”
It may not surprise you to hear that the BPI are having none of it.
“A company that can create driverless cars could easily apply its incredible resources to present users with genuine sites like Apple Music or spotify… It’s becoming clear that stronger government action is needed.”
Geoff Taylor, BPI
The body’s reasoning includes the fact that 16% of traffic to piracy sites is obviously not an insignificant number – especially when Google processes an estimated 3.5bn searches worldwide every day.
Plus, there’s no visibility in Google’s numbers of whether or not they are the initial source for pirate traffic – if people search for a torrent, for example, then visit The Pirate Bay and bookmark the site for future use.
Geoff Taylor, CEO of the BPI, told MBW: “It is disappointing that Google continues to downplay the role its search engine plays in guiding millions of consumers to illegal sites
“A company that can 3D map the world and create driverless cars could easily apply its incredible resources to present search users with genuine sites like Apple Music or Spotify, instead of illegal sites like“free-MP3-music.download” – the very first result when I searched today for ‘Zayn download’.
“The [UK] Government has tried to facilitate a cooperative solution but it’s becoming clear after years of voluntary talks that stronger Government action will be needed to fulfil its manifesto commitment to tackle this problem.”
Invigorating public spats aside, that last line is really all that matters: the BPI (and music rights-holders) want the UK Government to take further action against Google if it continues to refuse to take more steps to help with their search takedown headache.
Google is not very keen on that idea, and has rather powerful lobbying strength within Whitehall.
The battle continues…