Google doesn’t like piracy websites much. In fact, it’s fair to say that Google positively hates them. If reports from the UK are to be believed, the world’s biggest internet company has apparently decided that enough is enough, and has begun orchestrating a major effort to cut funding to websites that provide illegal downloads, with the ultimate aim of eradicating them from the web once and for all.
As we all know, the downloading of copyrighted media has become almost a national pastime, with millions of illegal files containing movies, games and music albums downloaded each year. This is all well and good for those who get free access to their favorite movies and songs, but for the music and film industries, the practice is costing them millions of dollars.
Google wants to do its bit in protecting these industries, and has faced criticism in the past for the way it deals with pirated material but would prefer not to take the most obvious step of altering its algorithm to demote illegal sites, says the BBC.
By refusing to block the sites, Google (which didn’t say why it wouldn’t change its algorithm) is probably feeling a little bit guilty, and so the search company has decided to tackle the problem at its roots, by attempting to shut off financing for the biggest illegal download sites. To facilitate this, Google is reported to be in discussions with a number of financial service providers, including MasterCard, Visa and PayPal.
According to the Telegraph, Google wants to put a stop to those website that are dedicated to offering links to pirated music, films, games and other material. Many of these sites generate revenue by offering paid memberships for faster and more downloads, and the theory goes that by cutting off these funds, most would simply pull the plug on their operations.
It’s a controversial idea, but it wouldn’t be the first time that such measures have been introduced. Most famously, the US government pulled a similar trick on WikiLeaks, getting the likes of PayPal, MasterCard and others to agree to block payments to Julian Assange’s whistleblowing website.
But for Google to propose such measures is truly radical step, one that could lead to unintended consequences if the plan is not implemented properly, for example, with companies abusing the rules to try and snuff out competitors.
Google refused to comment when asked by the BBC, but a spokesperson did reaffirm its commitment to fighting online piracy:
“Google has never worked harder to tackle piracy online. Last month alone we removed over 14 million links to pirated material. There are also huge and growing opportunities for content creators to make money online, which is why so many have signed up to Google Play and as YouTube partners.”