Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

May 19, 2011 -

Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt on Wednesday proclaimed the company's strong opposition to new legislation that calls for shutting down access to file-sharing websites that offer allegedly copyrighted material. The new law proposes that the government blacklist these sites, take them offline, and demand that search providers such as Google delist them from their search indexes.

Schmidt argued that laws such as these set a very “disastrous precedent” for destroying free speech all over the world.

"If there is a law that requires DNSs [domain name systems] to do X, and it's passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president of the United States and we disagree with it, then we would still fight it," Schmidt told reporters at a London conference. "If it's a request, the answer is we wouldn't do it. If it's a discussion, we wouldn't do it."

His comments follow a high profile Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced the PROTECT IP Act. This proposed bill would allow the attorney general to go to a judge to get a court order which would enable the Justice Department to shut down a domain name of an infringing site. The bill is a retooled version of an earlier bill proposed by Leahy introduced last year called COICA. The new bill includes a new provision that applies to search engines, which is why Google's top executive is speaking out about it.

The bill would also force Google to cut off any advertising on an accused site or sponsored links.    Schmidt didn't mince words on Monday, comparing provision in the bill to practices used by the Chinese government to suppress free speech - something Google has fought against in the past. Schmidt said that the idea of blocking domain names is much like what China does to keep users off sites it deems inappropriate.

"I would be very, very careful if I were a government about arbitrarily [implementing] simple solutions to complex problems," Schmidt said.

"So, 'let's whack off the DNS.' OK, that seems like an appealing solution but it sets a very bad precedent,” Schmidt said, “because now another country will say 'I don't like free speech so I'll whack off all those DNSs.' That country would be China.” Naturally Schmidt’s comments have riled the entertainment industry. The Recording Industry Association of America said his stance contradicts a "more compromising tone" that Google General Counsel Kent Walker had with lawmakers at a hearing last month.

“This is baffling,” an RIAA spokesman told Politico. “As a legitimate company, Google has a responsibility to not benefit from criminal activity.”

“Is Eric Schmidt really suggesting that if Congress passes a law and President Obama signs it, Google wouldn’t follow it? As an American company respected around the world, it’s unfortunate that, at least according to its executive chairman’s comments, Google seems to think it’s above America’s laws,” said Michael O’Leary, an executive vice president for MPAA. "And the notion that China would use a bipartisan, narrowly tailored bill as a pretext for censorship is laughable, as Google knows, China does what China does."

A Google representative was a bit more diplomatic in its response to Politico, saying that it is working with lawmakers to crack down on piracy while protecting free speech.

“Free expression is an issue we care deeply about and we continue to work with Congress to make sure the PROTECT IP Act will target sites dedicated to piracy while protecting free expression and legitimate sites,” the representative said.

Source: Politico

 


Comments

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

Ya know, for once I'm actually willing to agree with Google on this one.  The entertainment industry has been ABUSING copyright laws for going on 10 years, now.  As hard as it is to admit this, but kudos to Google for standing up to it.  The US needs to look at IP the way the UK government is starting to look at it.  From a consumer standpoint.  How long do these IP holders think they can piss off and stomp on their CONSUMER BASE and still think they'll turn up a profit.  From what I understand from similar articles, some musical artists claimed that when they ease up on their consumer base, they actually make an even bigger profit off of merchandise and concert ticket sales.  You know why that could be?  Perhaps it's because the consumer base appreciates being treated as consumers, not as suspects.  Food for thought.

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

Oh, the abuse has gone on far longer than that.

After all, the entertainment industry tried to destroy the VCR before it took off in the early 80's. Before the (Sonny Bono) Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, there was the Copyright Right Act of 1976, both of which have extended the length of copyright to absurdity.

I could reach retirement and drop dead, and stuff made by people who died BEFORE I was born will STILL be under copyright. That's just wrong.

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

How is 70 years "wrong?" what if an author had a wife and kids to feed? He writes a piece that does well, or even a huge Harry Potter-esque blockbuster, and then dies the next year. Are you seriously saying his family should get nothing because the copyright should go with him? What if he was in his early 20's? At least that way the family has a chance to keep their livlihood.

The idea is that his family/beneficiary can hold onto his IP, just like a physical posession.

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

The point of copyright is the same as the point of patents, to guarantee an exclusive period to commercially exploit a new creation in order to incentivize new creations. It is not there to guarantee a perpetual stream of revenue to an immortal corporation for making one hit. It is only supposed to be a window of opportunity to profit from one creation while working on the next, not have the permanency of a physical possession.

Treating copyright like a physical possession is what is wrong the current system. It incentivizes milking an existing IP mercilessly, rather than developing new creations to keep the revenue stream flowing. Copyright is a reward from society for the social benefits of new creations. If the creations stop, the benefits should expire as well.

 

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

I don't think it's those cases that people have a problem with.

 

The cases people tend to have a problem with is when an IP is just sitting there. When a company sits on an IP and does absolutely nothing with it, and crushes any and all efforts to attempt anything, even if the endeavaor is non profit.

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

The way you two are talking about it, IP should be more like trademark in the sense that if you use it, it stays active, however, if you don't, even if you pay and are within the time period offered by the law, it will lapse. This is something I'd like to see a lot more, to be frank.

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

Yeah.. I call bullshit... or at least plublicity stunt.

Google already complies with 'requests' to remove websites from its search results.    The only differnce here is they might start getting requests for sites that have lucritive advertizing....

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

What MPAA strawmanspokesman said: "Is Eric Schmidt really suggesting that if Congress passes a law and President Obama signs it, Google wouldn’t follow it?"

What Schmidt really said: "...Congress and signed by the president of the United States and we disagree with it, then we would still fight it."

 

Really though, Schmidt just said Google wouldn't comply unless forced to, and many law can be challenged and delayed enforcement until the courts are done (5 years from now).

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

Hmmm so making a slow burocratic process to combat a very lucrative and fluid group of individuals.

By the time they get through to block a domain, there could be 3 others offering the same material.  It is an uphill and dare I say unwinnable battle. 

I really dislike the RIAA, I feel like it is run by a bunch of people trained to protect music like it was the 80's.  Times have changed and now that their techniques don't work they are scrambling in a panic begging mommy government to help because the kids on the play ground are being mean.  Their company isn't fit to protect the people they claim they do. 

Honestly songs really aren't a whole lot of data so controling where they go is a silly thought, cause you probably can't.  Artists should continue to sell their music, if they make it big they still make a ton from their supporters.  I do however think artists will need to learn to adapt, and many have embracing the freedom the internet offers rather than waiting for the RIAA to continue trying to shackle it.

In my mind it isn't all about whether piracy is wrong or not but a matter of logistics.  You can't fight polio with a hammer, and penicillin isn't invented yet.  The ban hammer just causes more damage in the end in my mind.....and yes I compared piracy to polio.

Piracy really is a wrong thing, artists need support.  But to prevent piracy artist need to offer their work in the same way pirates get their work anyway.  I feel like if sites like pandora, not only played songs but coul dalso offer them for download, or perhaps a  site like netflix for music was aloowed to grow big enough the whole thing would become a moot point.  Really I love netflix, not to expensive and just overall easy to access, that is what the music industry needs in my mind.


Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

I actually like the piracy-to-disease equivilance, though I'd go back further than polio. In a few decades, we're going to look back on these methods of copyprotection and they will look as meaningful and as effective as medieval physicians balancing the humors. 

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

Would this not be akin to setting fire to a Library simply because came across one book they never actually purchased and tagged it so it could be loaned out?

Or am I missing what this means?

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

On first read it strikes me as more akin to removing said library's phone book listing because someone heard a rumor that some of its books aren't legit.

Unfair and not very effective anyway.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

Hmmm, I wonder. What about a site like fileshare? They are not really in control of what is hosted (even though they have rules) and often contain material that infringe on others' copyrights. If they closed down that site though, I'd see it as burning the library for the book.

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

Except burning a library destroys the library and everything in it.  That's not what happens here.  You can still get to the "library" and all its "books," you just have to go about it a different way.

At least, if my understanding of this bill is correct.  Which it very well might not be as I haven't read it.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

So... more like putting chains on all the doors and boarding up the library, creating fire-hazards? :3

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

No, more like what I said in the first place.  Actually, exactly like I said in the first place.  Again, unless my understanding of a bill I haven't read is incorrect.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

The "can't reach through normal means" would be accurate, as long as you add the caveat that someone now needs to go through a window in the back. But sure, then that's closer to the bill.

 
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