Google slammed by Aussie anti-piracy body

26 November, 2013 by Don Groves

Google has been accused of turning a blind eye to criticism that its search engine frequently directs consumers to pirated websites.

Neil Gane, regional director, Australasia at the Australian Screen Association, has questioned the online giant’s efforts to combat piracy.


In an article in AHEDA’s Yearbook (, Gane takes issue with Google’s recent How Google Fights Piracy document in which it claims it had disabled its own ads to 46,000 piracy websites in 2011. Google stated, “As a global leader in online advertising, Google is committed to rooting out and ejecting rogue websites from our advertising services”.

He questioned how long these 46,000 ads had been on piracy websites before they were taken down and how much money Google made from these ads.

Gane quotes a recent UK Government select committee report which stated, ”We strongly condemn the failure of Google, notable among technology companies, to provide an adequate response to creative industry requests to prevent its search engine directing consumers to copyright-infringing websites.

“We are unimpressed by their evident reluctance to block infringing websites on the flimsy grounds that some operate under the cover of hosting some legal content.”

Gane’s organisation (formerly the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft) represents the film and TV content and distribution industry in Australia.

“No one is inferring that search engines alone can solve the problem, but with such enormous reach and power must surely come a measure of responsibility,” he writes. “As the internet gatekeepers they must surely share the responsibility of not directing audiences to pirated content.”

He also cites research by the University of Ballarat, published in September, which found that 99% of ads on piracy sites were categorised as high risk, promoting goods or services that may be illegal, restricted, fake or counterfeit. Many were for the sex industry, malware, gambling, scams and downloading sites.

According to the AHEDA Yearbook, the vast majority of internet piracy is carried out by about 20% of the online community. Distributors say that group is unlikely to change their habits so the challenge is to minimise the number of individuals resorting to online piracy.

“The industry is battling a sneering and cynical attitude that online piracy only serves to harm a greedy, cabal of elites that is financially untouchable,” distributors complain.