The music and movie industries are sounding the alarm again on online piracy, saying illegal downloads are on the rise and search engines like Google aren’t doing enough to stop them.
Entertainment executives say they have no intention of trying to revive failed U.S. legislation that would have imposed unprecedented regulations on Internet companies. That proposal last year prompted a fierce backlash from tech companies and activists who said it would damage the Internet as a free and open enterprise.
But the industry’s top lobbyists returned to Capitol Hill this week to try to renew interest in online piracy, which has largely fallen off the public’s radar. They are distributing to sympathetic lawmakers their own research on what they say are the growing perils of piracy – some of which is contested by Internet activists – and telling Congress that Google and other search engines aren’t doing enough to redirect consumers away from known pirating sites.
Earlier that day, MPAA Chairman Christopher Dodd, a former U.S. senator, joined several House lawmakers in telling reporters that “as the Internet’s gatekeepers, search engines share a responsibility to play a constructive role in not directing audiences to illegitimate content.”
While Google declined to discuss the allegations, a spokeswoman pointed reporters to its own recent piracy assessment. In that report, Google claims consumers are more likely to find pirated material from friends or social networks than by using its search engines.
And, last August, Google announced it would tweak its search engine to lower the visibility of any site that acquires a high number of copyright removal notices.
But the music and movie lobbyists said this week that by their account, the change hasn’t worked. MPAA’s eight-month study, conducted through online surveys by the Boston-based consulting firm Compete for an undisclosed amount, found that 20 percent of visits to sites with illegal content were “influenced” by a search query.
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