Google answers Piracy Questions at Congressional Hearing

May 2011


Google’s General Counsel faced questions about how its search engine can be used to locate pirated and counterfeit content online, during a hearing before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet Subcommittee. When asked by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) why its “autocomplete” search feature suggested so many infringing links, Google General Counsel Kent Walker testified that those suggestions are “a reflection of how many users are trying to seek infringing content,” according to PaidContent’s coverage. “It would seem to be feasible that those common search terms that are used to find pirated works on the internet — the results could be filtered out,” added Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), according to PaidContent’s coverage. Walker went on to say that Google built a content filtering system for YouTube, but it would be impossible to remove unauthorized content without owners’ help — endorsing the “takedown notice” process laid out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).  Walker added that Google does not want to be tasked with being the “judge, jury and executioner” when it comes to piracy, according to CNET’s coverage, but would cut off its advertising service for sites the government deemed to be engaged in piracy.

Google has removed a mobile application from digital music service Grooveshark from its Android Market store, Florida-based Grooveshark lets users upload their own music libraries, and share songs with other users.  It settled a legal action with EMI to licence EMI’s catalogue but still has an action launched by Universal pending in the federal court.

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