Google is a long-standing target of critics who claim that the company “encourages piracy.” While this is not a uniformly held view and Google vehemently disputes it, the accusation has been voiced by many in Music and Motion Picture industries.
Over time Google has implemented various systems and methodologies to try and address piracy and copyright infringement on YouTube and in search results, in part to satisfy critics and in part to satisfy the law. (YouTube’s founders initially turned a blind eye toward copyright infringement.)
Earlier this week the company released a report called “How Google Fights Piracy” (embedded below). It also discussed those efforts in a blog post.
In the report’s introduction the company says:
The internet continues to be a boon for creators, their communities, and the content industry, and Google continues to be a key part of that success. Today, Google’s services provide more content for users, generate more revenue for rightsholders, and do more to battle copyright-infringing activity than ever before. Google takes the challenge of online piracy seriously—we continue to invest significant resources in the development of tools to report and manage copyrighted content, and we work with other industry leaders to set the standard for how tech companies fight piracy.
The current mechanism of copyright enforcement and content management on YouTube is called ContendID. Google says that it has invested “more than $60 million” in the proprietary system. Google adds that “well over 90 percent [of content creators choose] to monetize videos containing their copyrighted material.” Accordingly, Google asserts that “Content ID on YouTube has generated over $2 billion for creators.”
There are still vocal critics in the Music Industry, for example, who don’t believe this is sufficient. According to a piece in Billboard, “Music stakeholders counter that … returns from the platform are untenable, and that YouTube draws ears and eyes away from subscription services like Spotify, which pay a much higher return for access to the same music.”
In a related story, Google has ended its bitter legal dispute with Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, who had been aggressively investigating piracy on Google for several years. Google sued Hood, arguing that the attorney general’s investigation was actually a front for the financial interests of the Motion Picture Association of America. News organizations at the time discovered what amounted to collusion or a conspiracy to use the office of the Mississippi Attorney General to enforce SOPA-like control over internet content.
The case has now been settled, with both parties pledging cooperation in the future. Though the settlement marks the end of the Hood investigation, it certainly won’t mean the end of criticisms of Google’s copyright enforcement policies and practices.