Piracy is a massive problem that costs the entertainment industries billions of pounds every year.
As the accessibility of “illegal” content downloads eases, media companies have been forced to find new ways to stop the pirates.
The latest effort to quash online piracy comes in the form of the entertainment industries (including the MPAA and RIAA) coercing Google into censoring its ‘autocomplete’ results for some key search terms.
Among the offending keywords are “torrent”, “utorrent”, “RapidShare”, “Megaupload” and interesting, “bittorrent” – which in itself, is a perfectly legal and valid search term.
All combinations of the word “torrent” are also completely banned, which includes preceding the term with popular film titles and music albums.
So, torrent associated keywords will no longer be suggested by Google when you type in the first letter, nor will they show up in Google Instant. See below;
It’s not until you enter the whole word that you get results. And it’s the same for all censored keywords;
You can of course still search for the terms by just hitting enter in the search bar and get exactly the same results as before.
It seems as though there’s a lot of holes in this so called “censorship”.
It goes without saying that the torrent sharing sites are not very happy with Google’s new filtering system. A RapidShare spokesperson told TorrentFreak;
“We knew about Google’s plans for quite a few weeks now. We embrace that certain search suggestions will not put a wrong complexion on RapidShare anymore, but we are concerned that at the same time the legitimate interests of our users will also be affected. We believe it was the wrong decision to remove the term ‘RapidShare’ from the search suggestions,”
“RapidShare is one of the most popular websites worldwide. Every day hundreds of thousands of users rely on our services to pursue their perfectly legitimate interests. That is why Google has obviously gone too far with censoring the results of its suggest algorithm. A search engine’s results should reflect the users’ interests and not Google’s or anybody else’s”
Clearly Google has touched a few nerves. And rightly so. But unfortunately for the offended parties, Google holds the cards. And Google owns the world.
Admittedly, piracy is a big problem but this is not the way to control it. After all, shouldn’t a search engines priority be its users and the quality of their search experience?
Whilst we in no way condone the downloading of illegal content, it’s hard to see any kind of solution on the horizon. This half-hearted effort certainly isn’t it.
TechCrunch blogger Devin Coldewey summed the fight on piracy rather well – “a bit like someone trying to put out a forest fire with a wet noodle”.