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“How can that be right?”: The BPI take on Google on BBC’s Newsnight

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  • published
    19 Jul 2012
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The ongoing to-and-fro between the British Phonographic Industry and Google appears to be continuing as vociferously as ever.

Last night, BBC’s Newsnight ran an insightful package – well, certainly a damn sight more insightful than their head-slappingly misguided feature on Odd Future – on the current state of music piracy in the UK. The piece focused on renewed efforts by the BPI to put pressure on Google to make it more difficult for users to access illegally sourced music.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the BPI, attacked the fact that Google provides easy access to illegitimate music sources: “Once we’d told Google a hundred thousand times that a particular site is illegal, we think that site shouldn’t be coming above iTunes and Spotify in the search results.” When asked about the fact that Google may not be able to tinker with their algorithms, Taylor said: “Google’s in complete control of the algorithm that determines where particular sites come in their search rankings, and we would say that once they have knowledge that a site is illegal – to give one example, a court recently ruled in the UK that a particular site is illegal and that it should be blocked, but they still list that site above iTunes and Amazon in search results if you search for “download music”. How can that be right?”

Google’s response, articulated by UK Policy Manager Theo Bertram, was to say that pirate sites should have their funding and infrastructure targeted, rather than attacking the search engine for featuring the sites. “It’s not for Google to go around the web judging what is or isn’t legal, and I don’t think people would want us to do that. When people tell us, that’s my content on that page, we remove it quickly, and we do almost two million of those every month. But what our research shows is that however much you don on filtering, on blocking, what would be much more effective is to go after the money – to remove the underpinnings, the advertising, the payment processes, from these sites.”

A tangled situation, it appears, isn’t getting straightened out any time soon. The report is recommended viewing; you can watch it here.

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