• http://www.ambientlightmedia.com Steven Blatt

    Canal St, especially that area (Chinatown) is a huge tourist draw and has one of the highest store rents in the city. Every once in a while the city performs a token crackdown on Knock Offs but it is rampant. Tourists flock to that downtown area and they spend a lot of money on restaurants and legitimate items. All the brand name stores are only a block or two away on Broadway.

    Why is it a search engines responsibility anyway..?
    I personally do not want my searches filtered anymore than they already are, preferably not at all. I want to see everything and make my own decisions.

  • http://speeddatingnyc.co Brad Xavier

    So now Search Engine Land is going to tell New York how to function? Lol

    There’s another small issue here as well… Nobody uses Bing.

  • Scott

    I have to completely disagree. If you ask a friend where to buy knock-off bags, are you going to publicly hold them accountable if they answer your question? No, you won’t, so why are you doing so with Google? Google is an online search and advertising company, not a law enforcement agency. If you’re going to hold Google responsible, then you have to hold all similar parties responsible:

    The ISPs that host the sites
    Mapquest for providing directions to that area of town
    Rand McNally for producing maps that allow a person to find that area of town
    Car makers who produce products that allow people to get to that area of town
    Corrective lens manufacturers for making products that allow people to see those search results

    What happens if Google complies with your request to police the world, but you don’t agree with their definition of legality for a certain item? Who gets to tell Google which items are illegal and which aren’t? How far-reaching is Google’s police work supposed to expand? What should they be responsible for and what should actual law enforcement agencies be responsible for?

    Let’s get real. Google is not the criminal here, the criminals are the criminals. Google’s search engine is simply a question-and-answer service – no more, no less.

  • http://searchengineland.com Jonathan Hochman
  • Milos

    In reference to Chinatown, you are misunderstanding the concept of copyright. Copyright has to do with intangible intellectual property. A handbag is not intangible nor intellectual property. The schematics may be patented and the logo is a trademark but that is as far as it goes. The only time that copyright may come into play is if they are selling knockoff DVDs or CDs.

    In reference to everything else. I completely agree with Scott. Google is a search engine. Not a law enforcement agency.

  • http://brian.mastenbrook.net Brian Mastenbrook

    Isn’t there a bit of a difference between these two scenarios? In your first example, you specifically searched for knock-off products. In the second example, you searched for a particular show and got pirated content, without adding something like “torrent” or “pirate” to your query. Additionally knock-off products tread a fine line, since clothing and handbag designs aren’t generally protectable in the US as I understand it. A knock-off product can be perfectly legal if it doesn’t use something confusingly similar to the trademark of the real brand.

    Piracy, on the other hand, is always illegal. Any time I search on something media-related (especially music), Google’s whispering at me: “Psst! Yes, over here. Would you like to pirate this content?”, and it usually comes up ahead of places where I can buy the content legitimately. I don’t have to add “free” or “torrent” or anything similar to my query; I get it anyway! It’s actually very annoying and from my perspective indistinguishable from spam. It definitely shows that piracy is not the “back streets” of the internet; Google considers it to be more relevant in many cases than legitimate sources of content.

    Just to add some data points to the discussion, here’s what comes up for the last few albums I’ve bought or searched for with the intention of buying:

    Stanton Warriors – The Warriors: Pirated downloads are results #6 (beemp3.com) and #7 (clubmusic.livejournal.com); what appears to be a legitimate download source is #3 (traxsource.com)

    Umek – Toolroom Knights: When I search for this as ‘toolroom knights umek’ (sans quotes), the top result offers a pirated copy (www.housemusicparty.info). That search construction is natural to me because Toolroom Knights is a long-running series; if I reverse it to ‘umek toolroom knights’ the top result is… a different pirated copy (living-techno.blogspot.com).

    Toolroom Records Miami 2011: Once again, a pirated copy is the top hit. If I use ‘toolroom miami 2011′, the first three hits are official and the fourth is a pirated copy.

    Anjunadeep 03: Shockingly, this one has only legitimate news, paid download sites, and reviews in the first page of results.

    BSD – Malditos Bass-Star-Dos!: TPB is result #2. #1 is a news site.

    Markus Schulz – Prague ’11: filestube.com is result #4; the first three results are news and information from the record label.

    I could keep going through my recently added list in iTunes, but I think the point is established by now. I don’t have to search for pirated materials specifically; Google hands them to me. While I’d be cautious of legal solutions, I’m rather annoyed that Google doesn’t clean this up of its own accord. Google can and should have its feet held to the fire by its users and the media for this.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Scott, not sure if you’re disagreeing with me or some US congressional representatives.

    For myself, I think Google does have some responsibility to ensure that first of all, its results are relevant. And many sites purporting to offer free video or mp3 files don’t really do that.

    Secondly, I do think there’s some responsibility to pull any major infringers that are taking top spots away from original content. Someone copies one of my articles entirely, without permission, then starts somehow outranking me? Yeah, I’d like to cut off their Google oxygen.

    But I agree, it is very tricky when you start getting into some gray areas about what’s illegal and what’s not — or even where, as local laws vary.

    Milos, a knock-off handbag is indeed stealing someone else’s work. See the notice above — trademark counterfeiting. Do it, and it’s effectively real work, real goods piracy.

    Brian, piracy can be in the eyes of the beholder. If I put up a 30 sec clip from some TV show, that potentially is fair use. But a major rights holder might trot out that it’s infringing, get congressional buddies to back them up, and there’s your YouTube account closed and potentially, your web site shut down.

    But are you really suggesting that Google is more responsible to police the streets of the internet than the US government is to stop knock-off goods in New York? That’s the point I’m trying to make. Piracy in New York has happened for decades in the same spot, and law enforcement hasn’t stopped it. But legislators think Google has some magic wand to wave to make it go away across the entire internet?

    That’s really hard.

    Point taken — if you do searches, and Google rewards sites offering pirated content with top rankings, that’s no deterrent. But there’s a larger issue in all this, too. If the rights holders themselves aren’t offering the product or something decent to appear, then pushing the pirates down into the back streets is harder.

    I have a longer piece for the future on this, but see also one of the stories below about how Google rolled something out recently for TV producers to flag official sites. That’s part of trying to help them be more visible.

    But also look at your own behavior, You, I’m guessing, actually buy your music probably through iTunes. So although you or others can do these searches on Google, and demonstrate that there is pirated content there, that doesn’t indicated that most people are getting their music that way — especially when there are inexpensive, safer and far more convenient ways to do it.

    In the end, if Sea Patrol Season Two isn’t offered in the US through legitimate channels, then all the yelling at Google — or Bing for that matter — isn’t going to help. There are so many ways I can potentially search for that, and there are so many sites that can spring-up for Google to play wack-a-mole against. Even laws to go after the offenders is tough, if they establish themselves in different countries.

    I’m not excusing the behavior, nor saying Google shouldn’t do anything. But it can’t do it alone, and asking Google to somehow win the “War On Piracy” on its own — and in the face of demand that won’t go away and has no legitimate supply — is tough.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie

    Picking up where Scott left off, there are two criminals here: 1) the pirate; and 2) the consumer of the piracy. Google, Map Quest, and the car you take to get there have much, much less responsibility to prevent the criminals from connecting. If we want to get serious about piracy we should encourage Google to turn over records to the police of everyone searching for pirated content. Setting up some sort of automated police tracking system as part of every OS and applying automatic fines (through paypal :-)) would end the criminal enterprise in a hurry.

    Not advocating that, but…