Jan 19

Dear Google, I have a suggestion…

If you’ve read this blog you already know that Google reaps in millions (if not billions) of profit via online piracy. It’s no surprise, therefore that Google is fighting tooth and nail against efforts by Congress to enact a law that would reign in the rampant online black market flourishes thanks piracy (and Google’s ad money).

Since Google under is under scrutiny, company flacks have been giving lip service to the notion of fighting piracy  (never mind that no one ever pins them down when it comes to specifics).  So I have a very specific suggestion to offer.  Everyone knows Google owns Youtube.  Many may not know that Youtube has instituted a pretty decent “Content Management System” which allows rights holders to fingerprint their content (audio, video or both) and receive an alert when content matching theirs is uploaded.  The rights holder can then determine the fate of their content.  They can remove it, block it by territory, track it, or monetize it (sharing proceeds with Google).  While the system is imperfect, it’s certainly better than the alternative.

In addition to offering this fairly workable CMS system, I think there’s another way for Youtube/Google to effectively combat piracy on their site.

Pirate thieves are entrepreneurs at heart.  Money is what drives them.  Since they can’t upload and/or monetize content they own via Youtube they resort to the next, best thing.  They use Youtube as an advertising vehicle–a convenient gateway–to connect “customers” to their illegal websites.

Dummy file on Youtube linking to pirate site.

It’s pretty simple.  The pirates upload dummy content and title and tag it with terms associated to a specific film.  This happens with tons of Hollywood fare but it also happens with indie titles as well.

Here are several examples of “dummy” files for indie films I found on Youtube today.  Note in the video window there’s often a screen capture from the film and clear instructions how to find a “free” stream or download.  Also if you look at the description, there’s usually a direct link to the pirate website along with a description that provides search terms designed to drive users to the content.  (film title and link obscured for obvious reasons).  Note that I took this screen cap on the same day (January 15th, that the dummy file was uploaded to Youtube.

Dummy file on Youtube linking to pirate website.

I should note that many of the website that these dummy videos link to are portals that require customers to pay a fee for access.  Others allow users to download or stream the film at no cost (the site earns income from ads).

Now I’m sure Youtube/Google cannot totally eliminate this problem but I have to believe they could do something to monitor and remove dummy content that provides a gateway to online pirates.  How?  Well, I’m not an engineer but I know Google employs some of the best in the world.  Why can’t they develop algorithms and content matching technology that ferrets out these dummy files? (This file was upload on 1/14 and by 1/15 had received 41 views).

Dummy file uploaded to Youtube to advertise illegal pirate website.

It’s not rocket science to figure out the tags used by these pirates– “steaming” “download” “online” “free” “full movie.”   Why not implement automated search technology that can tag such content.  Why not hire staff whose job it is to examine tagged content to determine if it was uploaded with the express purpose of linking to an illegal pirate website?  It doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to do.  Why give pirates yet another “free” way to disseminate their stolen goods?  How ‘bout it Google?  What do you say?