Industries & Festivals — November 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm

MPAA joins European film producers in battle with Google over piracy

The Motion Picture Association has joined forces with the European film industry to pressurise Google to reform their laws on piracy, according to MovieScopeMag.

Christopher Marcich, president of the Motion Picture Association, which represents the largest film production companies in America, told the European Union information service EurActiv that an alliance of US and European film producers is ready to fight the American search giant over piracy issues.

Marcich referred to Ipsos MORI research that found piracy – distributed on sites easily searchable via Google – accounted for over ?511 million losses in television and film industries during the UK alone during 2011.

He said that pirate sites abetted by the search engine were causing this loss by encouraging the illegal broadcast of current film releases.

Although acknowledging that Google is not the only search engine to encouraging and abetting illegal screenings of films, Google has such a commanding place in the market that it must be considered in its own league.

Google is currently embroiled in an ongoing dispute with the European Commission over the company’s policies on data privacy, as well as its dominance on the internet search market.

“They played an aggressive part in the Stop Online Piracy Act debate, and have argued strongly that any attempt to regulate the internet is a threat to freedom of expression, but then they threaten to boycott the French press, which hardly appears to tally with notions of freedom of speech,” Marcich said, referring to the current dispute between Google and the newspaper industry in France, who are looking to directly charge Google for indexing their content.

The decision to go public on the dispute has followed a prolonged lobbying campaign on behalf of the music and film industries to get Google to demote the search position of sites like The Pirate Bay which infringe copyright.

“The search engine must take responsibility. They claim that the algorithm has a neutral pointer function but that is not true, and they recently accepted that they can change the algorithm,” Marcich said, adding: “Google should not be allowed to govern the internet themselves.”

He said the European Commission could encourage the stakeholders to find solutions, and claimed that Hollywood was uniting with European industry to make common cause against the search giant.

The Motion Picture Association includes film companies such as Universal, Sony, 20th Century Fox, Columbia, Disney, Time Warner, Viacom and Paramount.

A spokesman for Google in Europe pointed to a recent report commissioned by Google which suggested that instead of imposing blocks on the internet, governments should construct coalitions with reputable advertising networks, payment processors and rightsholders.

The spokesman said: “The way to tackle the problem is by cutting off sources of funding to copyright infringing sites.”

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