Google to testify on piracy before a House subcommittee

Google has been invited to appear before a U.S. House subcommittee which is currently investigating various websites which are accused of distributing pirated material and intellectual property (IP). On April 6 it is expected that Google's general counsel, Kent Walker, will appear at the hearing on the company's behalf.

Many trade bodies, which represent the software, game, film and music industries, have accused Google of helping to facilitate such websites for years by allowing site owners to post Google Ads on their sites; the offending admins then requesting or forcing users to click on these advertisements before a download link is available. Last month, at a Senate Hearing, congressmen put accent on Google for not turning up for a previous reception and not doing much to help the fight against piracy, one Senator even threatened to subpoena Google executives if they did not attend any future hearings.

According to the Google Terms & Conditions the company will "respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement that comply with applicable international intellectual property law" although it seems this will be one of the first times, if not the first time, they will have actually been grilled publicly about whether their technology plays a role in Internet piracy.

Last year Google announced it would start disabling offending users accounts from its popular service, AdSense. The company claimed they would "make it easier for rightsholders to submit DMCA takedown requests for Google products" and they "...will prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete".

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13 Comments

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Many [including Google] worry about the so-called "slippery slope", where doing something that seems good or worthwhile, e.g. hampering alleged illegal sites ability to make $, could set precedent & mean they have to do the same on a far grander scale for sites that are not not so questionable. The lists of sites they can't do biz with would surely grow, could include political targets, & policing the web for likely suspects they couldn't do biz with could eventually end up consuming most or even all profits given the staffing requirements -- imagine the costs to duplicate China's censorship, plus the legal staff to defend against all the law suits. Add that almost certainly someone(s) would fill the market gap they abandoned. It's the battle they're already fighting with YouTube but potentially on a bigger scale.

One of the main goals of these sorts of hearings is so politicians can get paid to make publicized political announcements/ads for zero out of pocket costs, plus it can show large campaign contributors/supporters that their money & efforts were well spent -- they're getting what they paid for. And if they can get some company to do their bidding, without having to worry about pesky constitutional issues, legislation, &/or budget concerns, so much the better. That said, [at least] the more pragmatic Reps don't anticipate a giant like Google will just roll over, but given the immense pressure from implied future gov censure, they can give even corp giants quite a bit of a nudge... Google is quite aware of implied threats of increased regulatory scrutiny, specialized taxes/fees, refusal of somewhat routine waivers for other regs, riders buried in future legislation etc. Time will tell if Google's past campaign contributions were made wisely, & if they were indeed enough.

A company can choose to do business with whatever other business they want, so long as it's not illegal. There's a lengthy process to prove whether or not some of these websites in question are illegal (or otherwise), so why should Google (or any other company) be called to account for conducting business with these sites/businesses when there's not yet been any ruling that those sites/business are illegal?

If company's didn't do business with other companies that they felt were on the borderline of morality or legality, then there wouldn't be much business going on at all. If the business relationship makes money then the relationship will continue - unless actual law or legislation is passed that prevents doing business with that particular company.

Google has no case to answer, and piracy isn't Google's fight (at the moment).

(But then, re-reading the article, it seems Google is just providing information, they're not being accused of anything...)

Piracy sucks. Some of the copyright laws and patent laws do too. I still think it is ridiculous that the VCR was almost ruled illegal. And I do think it is slightly ridiculous that free TV shows (over the air broadcasts) can't be shared.

This battle is a losing battle honestly. We will all have capped internet which ruins legitimate means of getting material. It'd be so awesome to use netflix on my phone over the air without worrying about bandwith. Then go to my home PC finish watching whatever on netflix without worrying that cap as well.

ObiWanToby said,
free TV shows (over the air broadcasts) can't be shared

What free TV? In the UK we pay a TV license for BBC and ads pay for the other channels. No channel is "free"

Pablo2008jedi said,

What free TV? In the UK we pay a TV license for BBC and ads pay for the other channels. No channel is "free"

There are other places not the UK ...

Independent of the ads I still consider over the air TV free. You put an antenna up, receive TV, that is it. Ads are recorded and all...

Jebadiah said,

No however they are posting links to pirated material.
And so does yahoo, bing, msn search etc. Whats your point then

Jebadiah said,

No however they are posting links to pirated material.

Google is not posting any links to copyrighted material. Google is allowing people that may or may not be hosting or linking to content that may or may not be copyrighted content, with their ad platform. They can't monitor every site that uses their ad platform for any content that could be considered illegal.

De.Bug said,

Google is not posting any links to copyrighted material. Google is allowing people that may or may not be hosting or linking to content that may or may not be copyrighted content, with their ad platform. They can't monitor every site that uses their ad platform for any content that could be considered illegal.

****/autodeskautocad2009.blogspot.com/ is hosted by google and is used for piracy.