The French Supreme Court has ordered that Google should strop promoting online piracy by ceasing to autocomplete terms with words such as ‘torrent’, ‘rapidshare’ and ‘megaupload’. Google instant and autocomplete searches were adding piracy related keywords to searches for popular artists. For instance if you were to input “Rolling Stones 40 Licks” the search engine may suggest within the dropdown list of choices some extended phrases such as “Rolling Stones 40 Licks torrent” or “Rolling Stones 40 Licks rapidshare”.
In our experience in the UK such Google autocomplete suggestions do not appear. We have already had a lack of piracy related suggestions for over a year. Google already blocks these keywords and others from autocomplete of its own volition. Also the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has requested Google to take down tens of thousands of search links to suspected pirated content. So, again using the above search as an example “Rolling Stones 40 Licks” brings up a first page of ‘kosher’ links, but as soon as the second page the following notices appear at the end of the search results list “In response to a complaint we received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 2 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint that caused the removal(s) at ChillingEffects.org.”
The French court recognises that Google is not to blame for the infringements taking place on websites it links to. However it says Google is responsible for its suggestions which may promote pirate content, therefore keyword filters are appropriate to reduce online piracy. While the piracy encouraging terms are not suggested by the search engine, Google searches including those terms still work as you would expect. In the case of searching “Rolling Stones 40 Licks torrent” hundreds of pages of torrent links are spewed forth by Google, peppered with a few US DCMA removal notices.
Google will be taking the case to the French Appeals Court to avoid being dictated to about what words should be filtered from its search tools. File sharing news specialist website Torrentfreak puts forward the argument that “We assume that Google is fighting the decision to keep control over what they choose to censor. If the case is decided against them, they can expect more requests for keywords to be added to the filter, or even entire websites.” The search site has already acted in removing what it considers to be “tempting” automatic suggestions for downloadable content searches. Also Google have been working under a huge barrage of search result removal requests by the likes of Microsoft, RIAA members, the BPI and BangBros.com