Google and Yahoo Among Those Funding Piracy, Study Says

By Jack Phillips
Epoch Times Staff
Created: January 3, 2013 Last Updated: January 9, 2013
Related articles: United States » National News
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The "Google" logo is seen on a tablet screen on Dec. 4, 2012 in Paris. (Lionel Bonavanture/AFP/Getty Images)

The "Google" logo is seen on a tablet screen on Dec. 4, 2012 in Paris. (Lionel Bonavanture/AFP/Getty Images)

Google and Yahoo are among the top supporters of websites that promote pirated content, according to a new study, which says the two Internet giants’ online advertisements help fund them.

Both Google and Yahoo—who were ranked second and sixth, respectively, by the Annenberg Innovation Lab of University of Southern California’s study—have both supported anti-piracy measures to demote search results.

Researchers at USC used Google’s Transparency Report, finding that Google and its Double Click advertisements were found on many of the world’s top pirate sites.

It also cited another study that was funded by Google and PRS for Music, which found that ad networks financed 86 percent of peer-to-peer search sites that include pirated content, including music and movies.

The study said that major advertisers “clearly … are not aware that they are, in fact, the key source of funds for the piracy industry.”

Pasadena, California-based OpenX was ranked No. 1 in the study.

Google said that while it has not viewed the study, it denies it is a major funder of pirate sites.

“Over the past several years, we’ve taken a leadership role in this fight, partnering with industry organizations to cut off the flow of money to piracy sites, as well as investing significant time and money to keep copyright-infringing content out of our network,” Google told the E-Commerce Times.

“The complexity of online advertising has led some to conclude, incorrectly, that the mere presence of any Google code on a site means financial support from Google.”

Yahoo has not yet issued any public statements to the media about the study.

Chris Castle, a lawyer based in Texas, told the Los Angeles Times that “if you look at IsoHunt right now … you’ll see advertising from the top brands in the world.” IsoHunt is a torrenting site that features pirated content, including music, movies, television shows, and games. 

“These brands are just perpetuating the people who are stealing from [the artist], and making them rich,” he added.

The study was headed by Jonathan Taplin, who heads the Annenberg Innovation Lab and hopes the study will allow ad firms to make informed decisions about which sites should feature their advertisements.

“All musicians know … why their incomes have plummeted,” Taplin told the Los Angeles Times. “Everyone knows piracy has destroyed the music business.”

The study’s top-10 list goes as follows:

1. Openx
2. Google (including Double Click)
3. Exoclick
4. Sumotorrent
5. Propellerads
6. Yahoo (including Right Media)
7. Quantcast
8. Media Shakers
9. Yesads
10. Infolinks

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  • Striving

    Interesting issues in regards to the article. First, why aren’t websites that allow users to download copyrighted music being shut down or blocked. The answer is that their servers aren’t in the US so the gov can’t shut them down and it can’t block them either since there is no legal basis to block copyright infringing websites (unlike some that may threaten national security or obscenity laws). Now a bill called SOPA would make that possible but the wording it uses is vague enough were some people have said that libraries might be open to prosecution for lending out copyrighted content. So it hasn’t passed. Why can libraries lend out copyright content? Because they’re protected in the “fair use” clause of the Copyright Act of 1976 which allows reproduction for the purpose of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching,scholarship, or research. Basically, so long as you don’t try to make money off the content or to diminish its value. Now the pirating website in this article is a peer-sharing website meaning it doesn’t have it’s own content but allows users to upload their content. This is legal. But the website catalogs copyrighted content, illegal. The site is responsible to enforce the law that bars cataloging of copyright. But the copyright holder must first notify the site of the infringement or the site doesn’t have to take it down on its own. That’s the reason for lots of copyright stuff on youtube. Tidbit: the maker of double cassette players was sued by a music label in the 80′s for copyright infringement but was found innocent since cassette copying can be used without breaking copyright. However, if you burn a cd that you do not own, that’s copyright infringement. But if you do this with software, this falls under a different set of copyright laws which are similar in that you can only make a copy if you own the original but there are more legal exceptions. Some of these exceptions have been challenged and there have been opposing rulings so there is no clear legality regarding some points including reverse engineering.

    Now how about using a (c) image on facebook? You can justify it under fair use if it’s of a non-commercial nature and for personal use. These are just my own understandings of course. But some interesting stuff.

    A last note: a Montreal student got kicked out of college for running a security test on his university’s system after he discovered several serious security gaps which could allow someone to access all the students’ info. He got in trouble because running a security test is a violation of terms of usage pertaining to proprietary information. So I believe. Anyway: it helps to consider the ethics of what you’re doing, though sometimes the law can be tricky.


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