Google Has Other Ideas Concerning Internet Censorship

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As the buzz around the government's attempt to govern the content of the Internet increased in volume, a number of tech companies increased their volume concerning their disapproval of how SOPA/PIPA goes about its business. The most notable of the objecting tech giants is Google, who, along with other giants like AOL, eBay, Facebook, and Yahoo formed the Protect Innovation group, which was created to speak out against the online piracy acts.

Should Google stand strong in their opposition of SOPA/PIPA or is their position too defiant? Let us know what you think in the comments.

While this may be an exercise in repetition, apparently some are missing the point about the opposition. This is not a response asking to perserve the rights to download illegal files. Instead, the way in which SOPA/PIPA goes about protecting intellectual property is at question. Or, in the words of the opposing consortium:

We support the bills’ stated goals -- providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign “rogue” websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting.... We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our Nation’s cybersecurity. We cannot support these bills as written...

It's important that this message doesn't get misconstrued or misunderstood. This, again, isn't about the acquisition of "free" files, it's about the way in which PIPA/SOPA goes about its enforcement.

This point was further clarified by Google Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, who, while speaking at the University of Minnesota, clarified Google's position while offering an alternative approach to what the government is trying to enact. Essentially, Schmidt, and Google's, position is that the bills would be ineffective, scattering the illegal file enablers to other sites where their activities would continue. Killing a site out of the Ukraine, for instance, one that's offering Blu-Ray rips and other illegal content, wouldn't stop the individuals who populated the site with the illegal files, it would just remove one of their supply chains.

Creating a new site to further host these illegal files would be a very small hurdle for pirates, which should help demonstrate the ineffectiveness of SOPA/PIPA.

Furthermore, Google is still resolute in its position that SOPA/PIPA, or at least the methods the bills suggest for policing the Internet, threatens the safety of the web, something Schmidt reiterated during his University of Minnesota speaking engagement. Schmidt also offered an alternative approach to the slash-and-burn tactics of these online piracy acts:

"There are a whole bunch of issues involved with breaking the Internet and the way it works. The correct solution, which we've repeatedly said, is to follow the money," Schmidt said. "Making it more explicitly illegal to make money from that type of content is what we recommend."

While Schmidt's example is a simplified, Google's position is spelled out clearly in the Protect Innovation letter:

We support the bills’ stated goals -- providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign “rogue” websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting. Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of web sites. We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our Nation’s cybersecurity. We cannot support these bills as written and ask that you consider more targeted ways to combat foreign “rogue” websites dedicated to copyright infringement and trademark counterfeiting, while preserving the innovation and dynamism that has made the Internet such an important driver of economic growth and job creation.

The idea of going after the people who are providing access to the very files the entertainment industry is so desperate to protect for further monetization purposes is a concept that doesn't get discussed enough. Granted, Schmidt would be better served by expanding on Google's idea for pursuing the people who fuel piracy content, but his and Google's stance concerning the legislation in question is one of common sense.

Perhaps that's why you don't see such an angle in either of the online censorship bills.

Should the IP protection acts do more about pursuing the money involved in illegal file-sharing or is that another subject for another time? Share your comments here.

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