Google Shines a Light on Huge Effort to Tackle Piracy at Google Search
-- Google has lifted the veil on its anti-piracy efforts by launching an online Transparency Report that offers details on the issuers and targets of removal requests for Google's search results. The easy to follow, interactive report covers requests to remove infringing URLs from July 2011 to May 2012.
The numbers in the report speak to the immensity of the fight against online piracy. The report says in the past month Google has received 1.255 million requests to remove infringing URLs at 24,374 domains from 1,314 copyright owners and 1,099 reporting organizations. The company received 284,850 takedown requests in the week of May 14.
Although staggering, the numbers relate only to Google's search results and not hot spots of user-generated content like YouTube or Blogger. Nor do the numbers include removal requests that were received via fax or letter, although Google does not indicate how frequently those types of requests are made.
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) was the most active music organization, reporting 182,805 infringing URLs in the past month. RIAA member companies reported 31,922 infringing URLs. Anti-piracy firm DtecNet reported 95,282 URLs.
Universal Music Group was the top reporting music company of the past month (9,299 URLs at 45 domains), followed by Sony Music Entertainment (8,074 URLs at 45 domains), EMI (6,020 URLs at 44 domains), Warner Music Group (3,977 URLs at 60 domains), Columbia Records/Bob Dylan (1,885 URLs from 39 domains), XL Recordings (855 URLs at 30 domains), Sony Music Nashville (739 URLs at 320 domains) and Bedrock Records (672 URLs at 324 domains).
Music companies and trade groups were far from being the most active reporters. The top reporting copyright owners were Microsoft with 536,716 URLs and NBC Universal with 165,662 URLs. The top reporter was Marketly LLC with 445,261 URLs. The vast majority of Marketly's requests since June 2011 were submitted on behalf of Microsoft.
The all-time most-targeted domain is Filestube with 391,153 URLs reported by 839 copyright organizations and 351 reporting organizations (such as the BPI or RIAA). Torrentz.eu ranks second and 4shared.com ranks third.
An entire cottage industry has been built around content owners' need to locate infringing content and send removal requests. Among the top reporting organizations listed at the Google Transparency Report are anti-piracy companies Marketly (2.2 million URLs since Google began tracking), DtecNet (863,000 URLs), Takedown Piracy (756,000 URLs), Removeyourcontent (219,000 URLs), MiMTiD (70,000 URLs), Web Sheriff (70,000 URLs) and Remove Your Media (50,000 URLs). Remember the numbers listed here are removal requests for only Google Seach, not YouTube, Blogger or non-Google properties.
You could take one of two views on the numbers Google has disclosed. Copyright owners and their trade groups could easily argue for a pessimistic interpretation of the size and scope of piracy facilitated by Google Search. Labels and publishers frequently complain about the cost - time, money and other resources - of locating infringing content and seeking their removal from search engines and sites like YouTube that host user-uploaded material.
A more optimistic point of view might hold that Google is being diligent in fulfilling removal requests. That is to say, piracy is rampant but Google is doing its job in reducing piracy. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out, Google complied with 97% of takedown requests received from July to December 2011. "Google deserves to be commended for" upholding these "instances of legitimate speech" contained in the other 3% of takedown requests, the EFF writes.
Collateral Damage in Gibson Guitars v. Lacey Act: Guitar Dealers
-- The federal government's run-ins with Gibson Guitars over the Lacey Act have been well documented over the last year. A less covered topic is how dealers are affected by the Act, passed in 1900 to fight the impacts of hunting and the importing of exotic species. The Act was amended in 1981, 1988 and 2008. The latter amendment, part of the 2008 Farm Bill, extended the Act's coverage to timber products and requires importers to ensure their timber products were legally obtained.
Now the Tennessean takes a really good look at how the act affects small business through the eyes of well known Nashville guitar store Gruhn's Guitars. "It's currently easier to get a passport and visa to travel to Pakistan than it is to legally ship a (vintage) Martin guitar," owner George Gruhn told the Tennessean. "They've made it actual living hell to import or export such a thing, and that's what my business relied on."
Gruhn, a self-described environmentalist, says he must deal with three federal agencies in order to ship a guitar internationally. Importing a guitar requires a dealer like Gruhn to fill out a Lacey Act declaration saying the wood was harvested legally. If the wood violates the exporting country's laws, the retailer may be held liable. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora only complicates matters further and adds costs and delays to shipping guitars to out-of-country buyers, he adds. A proposed bill called the RELIEF Act aims to except instruments made before 2008. ( The Tennessean)
Silverman Sees a Way Forward: Monetizing Passive Fans
-- Industry veteran Tom Silverman sees all sorts of signs the industry is returning to growth. But what about actually surpassing the revenues of 10 or 12 years ago and finding serious growth? The key, he says, is in the palm of your hand, he tells Musician Coaching.
"The only way we'll get there is by finding a way to monetize passives. Because, the passives outnumber music buyers - there are 6 billion passives vs. 200 million music buyers. There are 6 billion activated cell phones in the world. And there are 1.2 billion smartphones activated now, which means smartphones that are actively being used, with active subscriptions that have been paid for. The trend everywhere is moving towards smartphones. The entire world is going to open up to that level of accessing music." ( Musician Coaching)