Law Group Trying To ‘Embarrass’ Google Over Posts

A non-profit legal group said it’s trying to “embarrass” Google  into doing more to keep copyrighted material off its Google Video site.

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) announced it has evidence of pirated movies being hosted on Google Video, including the new “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “Live Free, Die Hard,” as well as another movie, “Hairspray,” not scheduled for release until July 20.

After news stories surfaced about the apparently pirated movies showing up on the Google Video site, NLPC said “Potter” and “Die Hard” were removed, but reappeared on the site under different file names. The NLPC also released its second “Top 50” list of full length movies, television and cable programs and music concerts it said are hosted on Google Video potentially without the copyright owner’s knowledge or permission.

Ken Boehm, chairman of the Falls Church, Va.-based NLPC, told his group wants to “embarrass” Google to do a better job of keeping copyrighted works off its site. He did concede it usually takes a bit of work for users to find the pirated movies at Google Video, which are typically posted under a name different than the original title so they aren’t discovered right away (such as a backward spelling of the title).

Still, Boehm said the videos generate plenty of traffic and Google profits illegally because the increased traffic in turn boosts ad revenue. “Google has a legal duty not to facilitate copyright theft,” he said.

Boehm claimed Google has shown itself to be very adept at filtering unwanted content, such as pornography and extreme violence, when it wants to, and should have the financial and technological wherewithal to keep copyright-protected movies off its site.

But Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker said there are other issues at play.

“Copyright status can only be determined by the copyright holder and the copyright holder’s preferences vary wildly,” Stricker told He noted, for example, that some artists want control over every single use of their content while others proactively want Google to host their latest videos as a promotional tool.

Stricker also said Google can respond quickly to pornography and videos with graphic violence because those are flagged by users.

“Nothing beats our community of users for flagging content,” he said. “We immediately review [the flagged content] and remove it if it violates our terms of service.”

Still, Boehm argues it should be relatively easy for Google to identify copyright protected works; the company could monitor for spikes in popularity and easily judge whether or not a video that is playing has been officially slated to begin airing. But Stricker said that some full length movies, like the documentary Outfoxed appear on Google Video with the approval of the producers.

In the ongoing copyright lawsuit Viacom filed against Google’s YouTube site, the search giant has consistently argued it complies with terms of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act  signed by Congress.

In a separate development, the latest Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, has apparently been the victim of copyright infringement by file-sharing sites. Leaked versions of the text (the new book is not due out for sale until this Saturday), have reportedly appeared on different file-sharing sites including YouTube.

News Around the Web