Despite the growing availability of legal music services in many countries, record labels are facing a constant stream of pirated music.
In an attempt to prevent these infringements, BPI and other music industry groups send millions of takedown notices to Internet services every month. Most of these requests are directed at Google.
Later this week the UK music industry group BPI will reach a new milestone, notifying Google of the 200 millionth allegedly infringing URL. This is more than any other industry group.
At the time for writing BPI has reported 199,728,661 links which were spread out over 328,714 separate notices. This means that the music group is responsible for roughly 15% of all URLs that are submitted to Google.
While the takedown requests help to limit the visibility of pirate sites in search results, the BPI is far from satisfied with the process. In particular, the group is frustrated by the fact that the same content often reappears under a different URL.
“…Illegal results that are taken down by Google are frequently replaced by other illegal links, which means that legal services continue to be overshadowed by infringing sites in the very top search results,” the BPI said today.
Ideally, the BPI would like a lower threshold for pirate sites to be down-ranked, while completely de-listing sites that have been ruled illegal by the High Court. In addition, they call for a “notice and stay down” procedure where search engines ensure that the same content doesn’t reappear under a new URL.
“This damaging situation can only be remedied by Google themselves changing strategy and proactively pursuing a ‘notice and stay down’ approach, so that once a piece of content has been notified for removal by the BPI, it isn’t indexed again for the same site and stays removed,” BPI notes.
The UK Government has put the issue on the agenda as well and is hosting a round table, where it hopes to reach a voluntary agreement between search engines and entertainment industry players.
Government involvement or not, thus far an agreement is still miles away. Google believes that the current takedown system is both effective and efficient enough to deal with infringing content
“[The takedown procedure] provides copyright owners with an effective and efficient framework for removing any infringing page on a site,” Google said previously, noting that it removes hundreds of millions of URLs per year.
BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor disagrees and stresses that the current system is not an effective response to online piracy. Search engines should take a more active stance against piracy, voluntarily, or with little push from the Government.
“We are calling on Google and Bing to show their undiluted commitment to artists and the creative process by implementing a more pro-active solution to illegal sites appearing in search results,” he says.
“This will avoid the cost for both of us in dealing with hundreds of repeated notices for the same content on the same illegal sites,” Taylor adds.