One of the markers that trade organizations like the RIAA and MPAA have always used when getting its private copyright police force; aka Department of Justice, and the courts to force torrent sites and similar link sharing sites out of business is that the argument that these aren’t just search sites – they are sites intended solely for the sharing of illegal files.
Of course the people who operate sites like The Pirate Bay, isoHunt, or any number of web search sites is that they are not doing anything any different than Google.
For the most part Google has tried very hard to stay out of those arguments but as anyone who uses not just Google but also Bing, or any other search engine out there it only takes a carefully crafted search query string for the search engine to return all kinds of links for so-called illegal files, sort of like that very simple example in the image at the top of this post.
So part of the argument against the RIAA and other trade organizations is that if they feel this way about other search engines why haven’t they gone after Google in the court of law.
Well it turns out that this may actual happen as TorrentFreak has a report that industry groups RIAA and IFPI have gotten themselves a “highly confidential and preliminary legal opinion” as their first step in either taking Google to court over this or to shame them into ‘degrade’ links to so-called pirate sites that show up in Google search results.
Even though Google has made a real effort to shut down sites when they get reported the IFPI claim this isn’t enough.
“Google continues to fail to prioritize legal music sites over illegal sites in search results, claiming that its algorithm for search results is based on the relevance of sites to consumers,” the document states.
“With a view to addressing this failure, IFPI obtained a highly confidential and preliminary legal opinion in July 2011 on the possibility of bringing a competition law complaint against Google for abuse of its dominant position, given the distortion of the market for legitimate online music that is likely to result from Google’s prioritizing of illegal sites.”
What is really interesting here is that the IFPI and RIAA aren’t taking Google to court over the listing of ‘pirated files’ which is what one would think they should be suing over, but rather they suing Google based on antitrust issues. In other words Google is being sued because the IFPI and RIAA say that because of the company’s dominant position in the marketplace they are giving preferential treatment to illegal sites over the legal ones.
One has to wonder why they are going this route instead of suing over the actual linking to so-called illegal sites, as they have done in other law suits.
Personally I think this is a lawsuit that needs to go to court and get decided once and for all just what a search engine like Google, or Bing, or any other type of search engine is liable for. Time for both sides to put up or shut up.