In their latest attempt to legitimize legally dubious actions, pirates have launched a website called The Pirate Google. They claim that the recent court verdict condemning The Pirate Bay, a popular search site for downloading copyrighted material without paying the copyright holders, should also be used to convict the owners of Google.
To demonstrate their point, you can type a search term into The Pirate Google and it will append “filetype:torrent” to your result and transmit it to Google. That extra text is an advanced Google search feature that can be used to refine your search. If you were to use “filetype:jpg”, Google would return only jpg images in your search results. In this case, the filetype is torrent – a download tracker file that is widely used in file sharing.
Unfortunately for The Pirate Google, their argument is unsound. If you go to their site and type in “Fast and Furious” your Google search becomes “Fast and Furious filetype:torrent” as previously discussed. This is where their argument falls apart; anyone who’s used Google knows that search results change drastically just by adding or removing one word from your query.
I could set up a similar website called The Porno Google and append “hardcore sex” to the end of your search. Guess what will populate the majority of your search results? Sites about hardcore sex. Does this mean we need to ban Google from schools and the workplace, since it contains adult material? No! Google has a feature called SafeSearch that removes search results deemed inappropriate by the system administrator.
In fashion, Google also has a way to remove copyrighted material from its websites. Visiting this Google Help page gives you all the steps you need to take to have Google remove an infringing download from their servers. Other sites commonly targeted by pirates with a similar argument, such as YouTube, Rapidshare, and MegaUpload also have pages where they show their commitment to upholding copyright law.
Compare these to The Pirate Bay’s page about removing copyrighted material. (Here’s a hint if your work filter doesn’t allow you to the site: they post the cease and desist letters and mock the lawyers who sent them.)
If we were to do a completely fair comparison between The Pirate Bay and Google, we would go to each of them and search for “Fast and Furious” without adding anything else to skew the results. While The Pirate Bay contains nothing but links to torrents that help you download the movie for free (and illegally here in USA), Google’s search results are all completely legal. They are links to reviews, plot synopses, and discussion on the film. Google’s search results don’t contain a single torrent file. And now it becomes obvious why Google is not under the same scrutiny as The Pirate Bay.