While many companies have been centered in the sights of copyright lobbyists over the past few years, one of the biggest that performs the same sort of search functions as many a torrent site, Google, seemed to skate by with ease – presumably because in most instances its staggering financial position gave it a serious legal arsenal to work with. However this looks set to change, as French music industry group SNEP has scored a hit against the search giant, with the country’s Supreme Court ruling last week that Google needed to take some steps to curb piracy.
While it was agreed that Google wasn’t directly responsible, the court did side with SNEP, saying that since Google’s Instant search feature often added piracy related keywords if an artist’s name was typed into the engine, that the technology did facilitate piracy. The case has now been sent back to the Court of Appeal for a final decision.
Ironically, as TorrentFreak points out, Google already filters several phrases from its autocomplete and Instant search functions. Typing in anything similar to the word “torrent” won’t reveal any results relating to the file sharing platform, until the full word is typed in.
It is expected that Google will be throwing its full weight behind its defence – the fact that this case was decided in its favour in two minor courts before being taken to the Supreme court suggests so – since if this ruling stands, it wouldn’t be long before copyright holders the world over begin using this case as a precedent for having search terms they find harmful to their copyright, removed from the engine.
KitGuru Says: This is also a matter of free speech. Removing content from a search engine – Google’s personalisation is another potential problem in itself – makes it not only less effective as an information gathering tool, but begs the question, who, if anyone, has the right to restrict a user’s access to information?