Why Google is making a mistake in demoting “pirate” sites from search results

Posted on Feb 25, 2017 by Rick Falkvinge

Google has agreed to demote so-called “pirate” sites from its search results, at the demands of the copyright industry. All experience from the past 600 years says this is a mistake.

A story in Ars Technica and elsewhere celebrates that Google will hide the sites people are looking for, because there are others that don’t want people in general to find them. When phrased like this, it becomes obvious that Google has little or nothing to gain from this move, and that throwing whiners a bone of meat to make them shut up is a mistake, for two reasons working together.

Reason #1: The easy-to-use, friendly sites are what people are actually looking for, and legality is utterly secondary. 70% of young men in Sweden state they’re using video services outside of the copyright distribution monopolies. That effectively means that every household is doing it: Every. Single. One. It’s considered completely socially acceptable: the copyright distribution monopoly enjoys less acceptance even than speed limits. (Far less, even.)

Google is choosing to bring less value to its customers in this move, and that’s never a good business move. Whether somebody else approves of what people are looking for is completely beside the point. There are tons of vested interests who would seek to prevent people from finding certain information.

“Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart, he dreams himself your master.” — Commissioner Pravin Lal

Reason #2: Appeasement has not worked toward the copyright industry at any time in history for the past 600 years; they always come back demanding more and more and more, simply because it has worked for them for the past 600 years. You’re just not getting anything from giving them what they’re throwing a tantrum over, because they’ll be back the next day and throw the same kind of tantrum over the next inch of territory.

This is the same reason that a flat cultural extra fee for “allowing” or “permitting” personal downloads outside of the copyright distribution monopoly, an idea that pops up every so often, would be a huge mistake: free uploading (and therefore personal sharing) would still be prohibited, and therefore, such a scheme would just give the copyright industry a perpetual free income in return for no effort or progress at all, an income they could (and would) use to fund further curtailment of liberty.

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  1. Antimon555

    The statistics of moral acceptability is six years old tomorrow. As much as I’d want it to be the same today, I believe it has dropped drastically, because of services like Spotify and Netflix. People who didn’t object to the messages “piracy is theft” and similar, but downloaded anyway because there were no other convenient options, would’ve had cognitive dissonance and hence said they found it acceptable. Now that there are more-or-less convenient legal services (although at an extreme price in privacy), those people no longer have any reason to hold back their old views.

    People asking for search engines: DuckDuckGo exists because of Google’s tracking and bubbling.

    4 years ago
  2. Master Yates

    Just a matter of time before the not Google search website gains traction and Google miss out on advertising revenue. Total own goal.

    4 years ago
    1. Jack Smith

      Do you have any idea how difficult today to create a search Engine? I think might find a different goal as think you might miss it. Part of the problem we call it a search engine but it has moved well beyond a search engine years ago.

      4 years ago
      1. Master Yates

        Its probably really difficult Jack. My point is, if you leave a void, someone will ultimately fill it.

        4 years ago
        1. Jack Smith

          Master, Gotcha! Thanks for the explanation and agree.

          4 years ago
      2. RobSa

        Creating and deploying a decentralised digital currency was a difficult task made easier by the invention of the blockchain. All that took to get started was the dedication of a pioneer.

        4 years ago
  3. Rishi Rich

    I agree Google making mistake !

    4 years ago
  4. davecb

    Google should offer, IMHO, annotations to sites or links like “sexual contnt” and “illegal in Germany” and the like, and allow readers to see or not see results including those links.

    I, for example, want books that are in the public domain in Canada. I could add “not piratical in Canada” (sorry, Rick!) to my searches to achieve that. The default would be to allow anything, whtever its piraticallness, exactly as it should be.

    I’d definitely like to add “no fake news” to filter out a certain US site (;-)) the same way I fiter out caselaw in Google Scholar searches or icky porno in image searches.

    4 years ago