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Google Accused of Benefitting From Piracy 162

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the jealousy-rears-its-ugly-head dept.
Clant writes "Google has been accused of benefiting from certain piracy websites because of the Adsense program, according to reports. Several major media companies have called on Google to properly screen their AdSense partners and stop supporting sites that are benefiting from piracy. 'Legal filings show that Google worked with EasyDownloadCenter.com and TheDownloadPlace.com from 2003 to 2005, generating more than $1.1 million in revenue for the sites through the AdSense program. Google reportedly noticed the amount of traffic and advertising served by the two websites and assigned them an account representative to help optimize their efforts.'"
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Google Accused of Benefitting From Piracy

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  • by nietsch (112711) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:05PM (#17985230) Homepage Journal
    So what is it exactly that google did that was illegal? paying someone for some adspace does not make you responsible for the rest of the page. Or does the RIAAmob think otherwise?
    • by truthsearch (249536) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:09PM (#17985276) Homepage Journal
      Normally I'd agree with you. But when you get large enough you get personal attention from Google employees. That means Google spent resources to assist the sites in placement, styles, and other tips. Google's not responsible for the content, but they definitely optimized their profits off of potentially illegal content. It's not dirty but it doesn't feel completely clean, either.
      • by jayloden (806185) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:10PM (#17986336)
        I got "personal attention" from a Google employee with suggestions on how to optimize my ad revenue too, and my site never made more than a few hundred dollars in a month from adsense (typically much less). My impression was that they hired some data entry workers to scan through adsense customer websites and suggest better ad placements. I somehow doubt they even cared or noticed what the content of the site was, they're just looking to make sure your ads are in the most prevalent and annoying locations. The fact that they had an employee "assigned" to optimize ad placement means absolutely nothing in this instance.
        • That's a different situation. When you reach a certain point in monthly revenue your account status changes and you get a "real" Google representative assigned to your account. You're able to customize the look of the ads more than other accounts and can target ads with very specific keywords (other than those in the page content).
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by davenaff (839028)
        I think people are largely missing what Google currently allows/prevents, the point of the article and the significance of the actions. 1. Google already polices activities that are likely to be illegal. Just look at the long list of activities that Google does not accept advertising on: https://adwords.google.com/select/contentpolicy.ht ml [google.com] Just a few examples: - prostitution - weapons - gambling - counterfeiting oh, and copywrighted works 2. An account rep assisted the site owners with selecting keywo
      • A friend and I have set up a website mp3read.com [mp3read.com] where we're trying to out these horrendous scam sites. And do you know what the best source is to find the urls of all these dodgy sites? Our own Adsense ads! Each day I go to our site, view the ads and grab the urls, scam site after scam site... We add those sites to our Adsense block list, and the next day we get a new raft of dodgy scam ads...

        It's very hard when you're trying to have a website that is ousting these site, only to end up with AdSense ads to
    • Hardly... (Score:1, Insightful)

      by cliffski (65094)
      If your company is knowingly helping to do business with a company that is breaking the law, you don't think you have a duty to stop doing business with them?
      Imagine your a second-hand computer store that realises that the guy who turns up every monday with a bunch of new PCs is quite clearly stealing them from nearby offices. Do you think you have a leg to stand on when you say its nothing to do with you?
      Its a different situation if you don't know that a business you deal with is engaged in illegal activit
      • RTFA sil vous plait (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The fact that the defendants were assigned an account manager is not particularly surprising: this happens to many "high traffic sites," ... but does not necessarily mean that the content of a site is closely scrutinized.
      • Re:Hardly... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ElleyKitten (715519) <kittensunrise@ME ... com minus author> on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:26PM (#17985576) Journal

        Imagine your a second-hand computer store that realises that the guy who turns up every monday with a bunch of new PCs is quite clearly stealing them from nearby offices. Do you think you have a leg to stand on when you say its nothing to do with you?
        That's a slightly different scenerio, because that's receiving stolen goods, which is very clearly a crime. A more apt analogy is if the guy next store keeps bringing in new, appearently stolen computers to his store, and then comes to you to buy flowers to decorate the store. Google had nothing to do with distributing the pirated things on these websites, they just bought adspace from them, which is completely legal.
        • Re:Hardly... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Sancho (17056) * on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:45PM (#17986934) Homepage
          How about the more obvious example of someone advertising stolen goods in the classifieds section of a major newspaper? Is it the responsibility of the newspaper to check out every classified for fraud? I don't know.

          I do know that, as computers and automations have become prevalent, laws have been passed to pass the burden of the crime from the automation-regulator (Google, ISP hosts, etc) to the person actually committing the crime. Look at the DMCA for a fantastic example of how to do this.

          Similar laws should apply. In the case of the DMCA, if Google or the ISP starts regulating content, they run the risk of losing their common carrier status. Instead, they wait for a complaint, and then take action. For ads, the burden should be even lighter, because one or two instances of copyright infringement on a site should not be enough to force Google to pull their ads or risk legal trouble.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Imagine your a second-hand computer store that realises that the guy who turns up every monday with a bunch of new PCs is quite clearly stealing them from nearby offices.

        Or suppose one of your customers regularly parks on yellow lines. Obviously you'd refuse to ever do business with him again! Of course the difference is that parking illegally can have serious consequences for road safety and/or congestion, unlike copyright infringement.
        • by Rebelgecko (893016) on Monday February 12, 2007 @05:03PM (#17988062)
          Of course the difference is that parking illegally can have serious consequences for road safety and/or congestion, unlike copyright infringement.
          Actually, copyright infringement DOES have serious consequences for road congestion! You see, the internet is not a dumptruck. It is a series of tubes. Downloading clogs the tubes, slowing the internets down for everyone else.
    • by camperslo (704715)
      Grocery stores benefit from pirates eating food, film at 11!
      • by cliffski (65094)
        yawn.
        If the grocery store had a guy set aside specifically to work with the pirate to help make him a millionaire, then I'd say you have some kind of comparison.

        Try to at least read the summary here, before engaging in automatic "it involves teh evil RIAA therefore they must be wrong" slashdot groupthink.
        • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:30PM (#17985660) Homepage Journal

          If the grocery store had a guy set aside specifically to work with the pirate to help make him a millionaire, then I'd say you have some kind of comparison.

          That's not a very good analogy. A better one is that a fellow comes into the grocery store every so often and makes exceptionally large purchases. The store manager talks with the fellow a bit about his grocery purchasing habits. The fellow replies that he needs the food for his "crew". The store manager then says that he'll help by assigning a special employee to expidite the fellow's shopping trips.

          Six months later, the press walks in and says, "How can you provide such service to a known pirate!?"
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:20PM (#17985488)
      The mob use phones to set up deals and pay AT&T!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TClevenger (252206)
        Very true. My dedicated AT&T rep knows that my company does "web services", and attempts to recommend services based on my usage patterns, but if asked, I doubt she knows specifically what we do.
      • Perhaps they Verizon [youtube.com] now?
    • by SnowZero (92219) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:34PM (#17985704)
      Well apparently at some point "Do no evil" became "Uphold the law" in some people's minds. The funny thing is that people get angry at Google for following the law in China, but if when they don't enforce the law, other people get angry. It is dumb to expect every company dealing with many thousands of clients to check every one of them. If Google helped these sites, it probably was no more than some emails or phone calls; I doubt they really looked at their business model or anything, as that isn't really relevant to placing ads on their website.

      In the past, I've helped people get my GPL'ed libraries working by exchanging a few emails, but I don't know what they are doing with them. Am I guilty if it turns out they are using it to break the law? After all I "worked" with them to get it functioning. If a car salesman sells a car to someone asking for a car "which can cross the state quickly", and that client later commits a murder and goes on the run, is the salesman guilty? He "advised" the client on how to "optimize" his nefarious plan.

      No, these people should not be guilty, because it is madness to expect everyone to "enforce" laws on their clients, going only on mere suspicion. The most you should ask of people or companies is to report suspicious activity to the relevant authorities, and let them investigate it. Refusing to do business with a company could actually put you at a greater legal risk if that company turns out to be legitimate.
      • by Myopic (18616) on Monday February 12, 2007 @05:36PM (#17988480)
        I disagree. I side with the way the law currently stands, which includes a "reasonability" test. With this test in mind, the question becomes whether or not the person providing the good/service has reasonable expectation to know that the good/service will be used illegally. Obviously, this is a big grey area, but it is good enough to assign legal obligation. For instance, if a guy with a gunshot wound and a bag full of cash runs out of a bank and gets in your cab, and asks you (not forces you at gunpoint; merely asks you) to drive him across state lines, then you have a reasonable obligation to say no, or in some way not help in the bank robbery.

        That is pretty close to your example of a mechanic helping get a fast car into the hands of a criminal. That one might be in the gray area, and might hinge on how clear it is that the guy was going to commit a crime. Another good example is head shops, which sell products often used for illicit drug use: Clinton winked at head shops and let them sell bongs to stoners; but Bush wouldn't do that, he enforced the law and closed down a lot of head shops all over the country, saying they had a reasonable expectation that bongs weren't being used as "tobacco water pipes".

        In the case at hand, Google would also be in the gray area, and the question is whether they had a reasonable expectation that ThePirageBay.ORG was engaging in illegal activity. From what little I know of this case, I am inclined to give Google the benefit of the doubt, especially considering ThePirateBay claims they don't break any of their local laws. But, I do object to your suggestion that ancillary consideration given to a criminal by a knowing third party does not or should not attach responsibility onto that third party -- it does, as it should.
        • by Jesterboy (106813)
          I don't know about you, but I'm rather happy I don't get interrogated every time I go to make a purchase. I'm happy the people at Wal-mart don't start assuming the CDRs I buy for data backups are for "teh warez", or the Sharpies I buy to mark them are for "huffing". Honestly, how far does this "reasonability" have to go? The GP post mentioned a person calling a dealership for a "fast car"; wouldn't they just help them out without asking questions? Does the dealer have to immediately assume he's a crimin
        • by lachlan76 (770870)
          and asks you (not forces you at gunpoint; merely asks you) to drive him across state lines, then you have a reasonable obligation to say no, or in some way not help in the bank robbery.

          What kind of nutcase jury would convict for something like that? Given that the bank robber got that far, it's a fair assumption that he/she has some sort of weapon; you'd be crazy to refuse.
      • by babbling (952366)
        Exactly. Google are not the police or any other branch of the government, so they shouldn't be deciding for themselves whether sites that display their ads are legal.

        That said, if you read their terms & conditions they do actually specify that they don't want their ads on certain types of sites, such as porn sites, sites that may offend people, or sites that may be violating copyright law. I think they should loosen up and allow those sites, though. It's quite limiting because any site that discusses re
    • Verdict: not evil (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Data duplication and distribution is not morally equivalent to murder and rape, and hence it is not "piracy."

      In fact, IMO, sharing songs and what-not is not morally wrong. The laws that make it illegal are unjust, and an unjust law is no law at all. So, IMO, it is only "technically" illegal, those laws should not be enforced or obeyed. Qualifier: I am not a proponent of the complete dissolution of copyright or other "Intellectual Property" (sic) type laws, though I do think that these laws need some very
    • by russotto (537200)
      Unfortunately, the law they have bought and paid for allow them to go after Google for exactly this. It's called "vicarious copyright infringement". It's normally applied to a forum owner who allows copyright infringement to go on in his forum and thereby benefits (e.g. from rent of the space). However, it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to apply it here.
  • by dsanfte (443781) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:06PM (#17985250) Journal
    I think we need a 'common carrier' style law for advertising programs. It's obviously not possible for Google to police each and every website that signs up for ad impressions.
    • by DogDude (805747)
      If they assigned a specific representative to the account, then they certainly are aware of what that site does. That's what makes this a story. I'm sure that there are millions of tiny, illegal sites using Adsense that Google can't possibly police.
    • by garcia (6573)
      I think we need a 'common carrier' style law for advertising programs. It's obviously not possible for Google to police each and every website that signs up for ad impressions.

      Well, when you sign up to be an AdSense "partner" it does tell you that they will review your site's content to make sure that it will be acceptable for their ads. They won't allow you to be a porn site, etc, etc, etc.

      So, if they are doing that, then they should be able to block anything else that they might not want to have their ad
      • by julesh (229690)
        Well, when you sign up to be an AdSense "partner" it does tell you that they will review your site's content to make sure that it will be acceptable for their ads. They won't allow you to be a porn site, etc, etc, etc.

        So, if they are doing that, then they should be able to block anything else that they might not want to have their ads displayed on.


        Just because their T&C says they *can* do it, doesn't mean they actually *will*. This is like your ISP says they can block your account for doing anything il
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, more legislation. That's always the solution to a problem.
    • It's obviously not possible for Google to police each and every website that signs up for ad impressions.

      "Google's mission is to organize the world's information. [google.com]" Do you really think that a company with such an ambitious goal can hide behind "there's too many accounts to police"?

      I don't think they should have to police the sites that participate in AdSense, but to say that Google doesn't have the means to filter their clients seems a bit off the mark.

    • Corporations don't make choices about who they do business with? And you want to encode, in law, that they're not responsible for choosing who they do business with?

      Are you insane?
  • Local law? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573)
    Both sites sold a repackaged BitTorrent client and access to a P2P search system, but the defendants argue that they are not guilty of the charges.

    Where are these sites located? First off, selling repackaged BitTorrent clients isn't against the law. Second, are these sites hosted and run from areas of the world that permit you to link to torrents regardless of their content?

    While this would be an embarrassment to Google here in the US because our media sucks and never tells full truths, it wouldn't matter
    • Details of the imbroglio are indeed slim, and it would appear at this time that no legal action against Google is pending.
      Why worry about local laws if they aren't gonna bother suing?

      They're just whining at this point.
    • Google should screen against illegal activities in the country of origin.

      I don't think google should add any extra screening automatically. I would prefer it if they sent dmca notification style letters to start the screening process. Would it be possible to craft the reporting interface that would run a moddified diff (one that can render video and compare the two or whatever the audio equivelent would be) that looked for similarities to a known good sample provided by the organization claiming copyrigh

    • Google should screen against illegal activities in the country of origin.

      I don't think that would be wise. The Internet is global. If a child porn site was hosted in some third world country with no laws against it, Google would still be unwise to do business with them--they're a U.S. company and a good bit of any revenue-generating traffic could very well be visitors from within the U.S.

  • What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lithdren (605362) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:09PM (#17985286)
    So they want Google to check every website that shows up in their searches, and make sure a law isn't being broken somewhere, there's no illegal copywrite infringement, ect.?

    Thats like requesting the United Postal Service to check every single package to make sure nobody is mailing love letters to anyone other then their husbands/wives. You could do it, with enough money and willpower, MAYBE, but its not excatly their responsibility.
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cliffski (65094) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:14PM (#17985378) Homepage
      that's not vaguely what is suggested or said. try reading the article.
      Google didn't accidentally let a pirate site through the net. They awarded an account manager to them, and generated a million dollars worth of revenue for them. They made 2 guys who were trying to make money from trading copyrighted content into millionaires, no doubt boosting some google profits at the same time.
      Try and at least read the summary.
      • by Lithdren (605362)
        Still fails to explain how its Google's responsibility to make sure they're not doing something illegal on their website.

        Its not their job. They are there to make money, and find the stuff you're searching for. Thats it. They are not morally or legally responsible for what you search for, or how they go about advertizing for something on someone elses website. If the people holding the copywrites are against the site, have them take down the site.

        If nothing else google did them a favor, as it made t
        • Re:What? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by cliffski (65094) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:26PM (#17985578) Homepage
          give me a break. If your a respectable business and you find out that you are clearly working with criminals you have a moral and legal obligation to stop dealing with them and notify the cops. I'm pretty sure in the Uk if you ignored this you would be guilty of all kinds of stuff, obstruction of justice, yada yada. Saying to the judge "I made it easy for you by selling him the ferraris your honour" would just get you laughed at.

          Why is everyone defending this? because you happen to like downloading copyrighted stuff for free? what if the site was a race hate site? is that just hunky dory? Imagine complaining to google about them making piles of cash from the KKK website, and to be told "tough shit, we ain't the cops pal". Is that OK?

          No respectable company should carry on like this. The fact that a lot of slashdot people dislike the RIAA doesn't make what google are doing defensible. They can omit some results in search terms if they like (see china), don't kid yourself it would be hard for them not to place adsense on pirate sites.
          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            If your a respectable business and you find out that you are clearly working with criminals

            Criminals? Have these guys been prosecuted for anything or is it a purely civil matter? Although it is true that copyright infringement can in some circumstances in some jurisdictions amount to a criminal offense, it sure isn't Google's job to find them guilty or otherwise. The most that should be expected of them if they really suspected criminal activity is to report the matter to the police.

          • Re:What? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by shaitand (626655) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:06PM (#17986276) Journal
            'you are clearly working with criminals you have a moral and legal obligation to stop dealing with them'

            Now now, lets not confuse legality with morality. Criminal activities aren't neccesarily immoral. Legal and moral are entirely unrelated concepts. You have a legal obligation if the law says so. You have a moral obligation if you a dealing with someone who is doing something immoral.

            'Why is everyone defending this?'

            I run a respectable computer service business. My business is fixing computers not judging customers. I don't care what activities my customers engage in; even with the computers. They could be into porn, the mob, neo-nazi's, democrats, or republicans. I am not the police nor am I a judge. I provide and repair tools I am not responsible for how people choose to use those tools.

            I don't see that Google has any responsibility to police websites anymore than automotive shop that fixed the site owner's car last week had an obligation to refuse him service. That responsibility falls on others.
            • To put it to your business...

              Let's say you repair a guy's computer and you notice that there's on there. Not only is there on there, you can tell that it's on there because he's using it to seed his distribution network. Not only that, but you realize that he has a fair amount of subscribers and gets a good portion of revenue from having said . Now you strike a deal with him - you'll tell him that if he purchases that shiny new server, he can serve even more customers... and you'll take, say, 1%.

              You k
              • No ... the real question, in that case, is why a computer repairman would be performing what amounts to computer forensics on a client's computer.

                Regardless, you have some groups (the RIAA, MPAA, and others like them) who would like nothing better than to see ISPs and services such as Google forced into the role of high-tech censor, and worse, be made responsible for what sites they merely link to. Then there's everyone else who would prefer otherwise. Be very careful when requesting that a corporate or
                • No ... the real question, in that case, is why a computer repairman would be performing what amounts to computer forensics on a client's computer.

                  To diagnose the cause of the fault?

              • by shaitand (626655)
                'Obviously your scenario is not comparable because you don't get to take %'s of revenue from your customers just for repairing their machine, which makes me wonder why you even proffered it - but there you go ;)'

                Because it is an irrelevant point. If the revenue source were illegal then it would be the entire point but the revenue source is perfectly legal in this case. The business google is engaged in is 100% legal from source to destination.

                You also seem to be ignoring the biggest point of all. Here in th
      • by mgblst (80109)
        YOu are asking Google to police the web? Is that really their role. How is it up to them to decide what is illegal, and what is not? Obviously they are not responsible. It would be impossible for it to be otherwisre.

        So what if they awarded an account manager, what do you think that means? That they have someone examine every aspect of the site for illegal activity? They did not assign a ip lawyer to the site, they assigned an account manager.
    • by DogDude (805747)
      Google reportedly noticed the amount of traffic and advertising served by the two websites and assigned them an account representative to help optimize their efforts.

      No, in this case, it would be like asking the USPS to please not assign account representatives to personally work with companies mailing kiddie porn.
    • So they want Google to check every website that shows up in their searches, and make sure a law isn't being broken somewhere, there's no illegal copywrite infringement, ect.?

      They should do the same thing with all the searches too. Every possible variation of "Parent Directory" some.bad.song.mp3 must be accounted for or Larry and Sergey are going to jail.

      Or, they could deal with the people causing trouble in the first place. Whichever makes more sense.
  • You might think that Google should not support illegal activity. And you'd be right.

    But what if they are active in trying to be the Ad Tracker for these sites, so that Big Brother can monitor the population a little more effectively?

    Google and NSA [redtractor-usa.com] Goolge and NSA [uneasysilence.com] Google and NSA [washingtonpost.com]

    Then perhaps, it is justified.

  • Not Evil? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WED Fan (911325)

    While not illegal, Google seems to be treading in the gray a lot, lately. From government influence to allowing a repressive regime to censor content to pirate profits, Google should just announce that it has fully joined the ranks of Corporate America and disavows its founding principles.

    Google then:

    Don't be evil.

    Google now:

    Well, it's all relative, isn't it? But, man, look at our stock price. Cool, we're rich.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by TheBogie (941620)

      Google then:

      Don't turn in bloggers so the chinese government can attach car batteries to their nuts.

      Google now(stock price near 500):

      Red on left nut, black on right; or is it vice-versa?
      • by WED Fan (911325)

        I love you. Will you marry me?

        Wait, are you male or female?

        Hell, what's it matter? I'm in Washington, we can get away with anything. Or, they'll make a law to allow it soon enough.

        So, how about it?

    • Re:Not Evil? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by db32 (862117) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:23PM (#17985518) Journal
      Don't be evil still applies perfectly. You just aren't reading it right. The rich are above the law, and the poor are the cause of the problems. So through simple substitution based on current society "Don't be evil" directly translates into "Don't be poor". And they most certainly are not poor, so they can't be evil.

      And now its happy fun slashdot analogy time. Should the auto manufacturer be held liable for the death of a child picked up by a pedophile in their car advertised as the safest for children? (Check me out, slashdot car analogy and think of the children all in one).
    • by Neopoleon (874543)
      "Google should just announce that it has fully joined the ranks of Corporate America and disavows its founding principles."

      I hate to sound like Mr. Rudepants, but how could anyone be so naive?

      I know I could be nicer, but it's amazing to me, after all these years, that anybody could still be thinking as this person does.

      Do all of you *really* think Google is in this for the benefit of the world? That they're a bunch of philanthropists, going around and doing good for everybody?

      In my time at Microsoft, I've o
  • So effing what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:15PM (#17985390)
    So effing what? Google also accepts ads from pinkos, right-wing nutjobs and presidential candidates.

    Hell, because of its volume, it's probably also safe to say Google does business with active sexual predators, drug dealers and serial murderers.

    Google's just an average media company, like NBC, not the thought police. Let the market sort it out: if people decide that all the losers Google whores for really are just selling crap, they'll figure it out eventually.
    • So effing what? Google also accepts ads from pinkos

      Legal.

      right-wing nutjobs

      Legal.

      and presidential candidates.

      Legal (regulated).

      That's the difference. Apparently some sites which they dedicate employees to help may not be legal.
      • by shaitand (626655)
        Personally I think we should find out what utility company provided the electricity that enabled these violent criminals (okay so they commited no violence or actions which were immoral, only illegal) to commit these heinous acts and chase them down with pitchforks! Or water, lets go after the water provider. How about their maid? That's vile hag is clearly responsible. Their mechanic? Yup, we gotta kill him off too! How about the restaurant they ate at last night?

        Google provides advertising. It is not thei
        • by Danse (1026)

          Google provides advertising. It is not their responsibility to judge their customers or their activities. It is not for Google to investigate and determine if in Google's opinion their activities are illegal. The only time Google should need concern themselves is if the image of the site would negatively reflect upon Google's own image.

          Exactly. And really, what Google is doing should help bring sites like this to public attention, and if they're doing something illegal, then the government can go after the

      • by pla (258480)
        That's the difference. Apparently some sites which they dedicate employees to help may not be legal.

        So if a car dealership "dedicates employees" (eg, an on-call salesmen) to a local front-organization for the mob, has the car dealership acted illegally or even unethically?

        As for the sites in question dealing in copyrighted material - So does Amazon. Would you require Google to make sure Amazon has the right to resell every book and CD they list?
  • by gasmonso (929871) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:16PM (#17985406) Homepage

    Remember that Google is based in the US. If they discriminated against these site and removed their Adsense, Google would have been sued. So clearly they did the right thing ;)

    gasmonso
    • by Wateshay (122749)
      What?? There is no law in the US that requires a company to do business with everyone who shows up. The only restriction is that you can't discriminate based on a fairly narrow set up criteria, such as race or gender (and even those have exceptions). If Google chose to do business with white pirates, but refused African-American pirates, then they might have a problem. Otherwise they're free to do business with whomever they choose.
      • by pyite (140350)
        The only restriction is that you can't discriminate based on a fairly narrow set up criteria, such as race or gender (and even those have exceptions).

        Narrow? You have to be completely kidding me. Apartment buildings that have elevators are forced to have handicap accessible apartments on floors reachable by the elevator because if they didn't, they wouldn't be complying with the American Disabilities Act. *That is ridiculous* If I'm building an apartment building, why should I have to pay extra money for th
  • by hackstraw (262471) * on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:17PM (#17985424)

    To some degree artists and record labels benefit from piracy, but lets hold off on that, but it is a form of marketing.

    Harddrive manufactures, companies that sell MP3 players, blank media, and all of that benefits from piracy.

    Personally, I believe that content should be free or kinda taxed/subsidized by hardware. Hardware breaks, and has to be either replaced or done without.

    I pay my ISP a flat fee for internet, but I don't pay for "content" besides my donation to slashdot.

    I pay hundreds/thousands of dollars for hardware that breaks all the time, but I don't pay a small fraction of that on software because its just not worth it.

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:17PM (#17985444) Homepage Journal

    Here's the conundrum: Even if it was lawful, was it "good?"

    I believe the more power and control of capital a company acquires, the more difficult it is for the company to examine its own behavior under the lens of ethics. In time all decisions become decided on the basis of whether they are legal or not, which is a completely different calculus. A company can scrupulously follow the law and still act unethically.

    The "do no evil" mantra might help Google employees feel like they're not actually working at a tremendously powerful publicly-traded company, and it probably still has a lot of influence on decisionmaking at the company. But I have a hard time believing that we won't be reading more and more stories of questionable ethics at Google as their power grows. I commend the leadership at Google for attempting to buck the forces at work here, but power still corrupts; it's the nature of the beast.

    • by deprecated (86120)
      To do no evil does not necessarily mean to do good. I am sure there is a cogent and pithy reply from some hoary old philosopher, and that in latin, but I am far too lazy to look it up.
    • I think it's more lawful neutral, not quite as good, but at least not chaotic evil.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I had my car's alignment checked once. It's chaotic evil.
    • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:44PM (#17985886) Homepage
      Here's the conundrum: Even if it was lawful, was it "good?"

      In my opinion, yes.

      Google could decide that it would be the arbiter of what should be advertised on its pages. In most cases, it has not. This is a tremendous amount of restraint for a company that could literally name winners and losers in the marketplace. In treating even scumballs like this (and I say that not because of the downloading, but because their stuff is adware-infested crap) in an evenhanded manner, I think that Google is doing the right thing. Remember that free speech (and yes, advertising is speech) is worthless unless we also defend the speech of scumballs. Google has done nothing that they would not have done with any other client of that size. And that *is* good.

  • by Infinityis (807294) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:18PM (#17985450) Homepage
    In other news, it has recently been revealed that several centuries ago, cartographers actively sold maps to seafaring pirates. Legal proceedings have revealed that many well-respected mapmakers have been implicated as enablers for these pirates. Amerigo Vespucci was not available for comment, but it is suspected that this turn of events will tarnish his name...
  • by qwertphobia (825473) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:19PM (#17985456)
    In other news, the big three American automakers, GM, Ford, and Daimler-Chrysler, along with a few smaller manufacturers are under investigation. It seems they profited when they sold thousands of vehicles to members of a number of well-known crime families.

    The gub'mint is also looking into allegations that Dell has profited from selling computers to known spammers.
  • Companies benefit from piracy everyday when someone pirates a product and likes it so much they actually go out and buy it.

    Google just happens to be making millions of dollars and some lawyer thinks he can prove it's shady and wants to get a cut.
  • Where's the Crime? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mpapet (761907) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:22PM (#17985512) Homepage
    On the mega-software-corporation-industry side, they all talk a good anti-piracy game but everyone and their grandmother knows that users of stolen software are converted into legitimate users quite easily. Certainly much easier than going out and trying to find new customers. (Ask apple about what it takes to get users to switch)

    For example, how much does Adobe care that Photochop is pirated? Very little actually. They get onwards of 80% of their Photochop sales in upgrades. I will be generous with adobe and estimate half or more of the upgrade sales are from people with legitimate licenses. The other half are finally making enough money to pay for a photochop license.

    I would be very interested to find out how *this* specific story about Google and piracy got published. Discrediting Google seems to be the intent more than anything else.
  • The restaurant frequently serves people off the street who are linked to all manner of criminal activity.

    They knowingly go on serving who ever has an appetite for their food, and the cash ready to pay for it.

    No screening, no checking IDs... "Food for profit" is the evil game they play.

    • by inviolet (797804)

      The restaurant frequently serves people off the street who are linked to all manner of criminal activity.

      Fine.

      Tomorrow, McDonald's sets up an office in east Compton, California. They assign two employees to the new office, whose stated assignment is to set up the food supply lines for the Cryps during their coming gang war against the Bloods. The Bloods, of course, have already got a dedicated agent from Burger King overseeing their own distribution problems.

      Still feel the same?

      Don't you just love ana

      • by Hao Wu (652581)

        They assign two employees to the new office, whose stated assignment is to set up the food supply lines for the Cryps during their coming gang war against the Bloods.

        ...

        Still feel the same?

        Worse- what if the manager were paid to summarily execute hordes of random people who came in to eat?

        You make a very good point, however unrelated.

  • Hear hear! (Score:2, Insightful)

    And while we're at it, the recording industry should stop doing business with any known drug-law violators! In fact, I say the motion picture industry should refuse to hire actors who have a speeding ticket on their record. This new assault on illegal activity will surely result in a better world for all of us.
  • by drewzhrodague (606182) <drew@zhrTWAINodague.net minus author> on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:30PM (#17985664) Homepage Journal
    This makes legit people (like me) hopping mad. Imagine that you do what you can to build *useful* applications on the Internet, being sure to avoid porn, spam, and warez methods. Then, Google turns off the ads on your site, when you can barely keep up with the constant bombardment from comment spam. Then, you find out that Google is okay with providing ads for warez groups. How much fun is that?
  • Really? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Duncan3 (10537) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:44PM (#17985890) Homepage
    I thought all of Google's revenue was from domain squatters, spyware programs, and viagra/stock/scam spammers. That's the first page no matter what you search for these days.

    Guess we learn something new every day!

  • by Dachannien (617929) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:55PM (#17987090)
    This does not make sense. The Mafiaa could be suing these newly-minted millionaires into oblivion, and the more money Google pays out, the more money that can be recovered in a lawsuit. They should be encouraging Google to pay out more cash.

    These website operators have the money - or the liquidatable assets - to make good on any judgment against them. Instead, they choose to sue children, old people, and disabled people, none of whom have pockets deep enough to pay out the outrageous sums the Mafiaa is claiming as damages, even though it's estimated that they lose money on every one of these lawsuits.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:20PM (#17987442) Homepage
    That was a major contributing factor in their building of a monopoly.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:37PM (#17987666) Journal
    Ted Kazinsky used the post office to mail his bombs. The USPS "benefitted" by selling its services to Unabomber. Many criminals used the Post office to send mail. Two Pakistani taxi driver brothers share a passport. (First one goes to Pak, mails his passport back, brother follows three weeks later. One bro comes back, mails the passport back to Pak, the other brother, not neccessarily the same one who returned, comes in again. They claim they have been doing it for ages. True or just a fancy cricket ground tall tale bragging cant be verified) Post office benefits by their business too. So what is so special about google?
  • And you see your ads on sites like this. I've seen referrals from astalavista.box.sk, iso sites, pdf/book sharing sites and other high traffic sites that are questionable in there legality but probably making millions.

    Perhaps there are marketers that could see this profitable, i say leave that to Adbrite and other mass CPM sellers selling junk and have google focus on whats legit.

    If for anything google should hand qualify every site it approves and be liable for the network they are selling to there advert
  • That the entire concept of a Search Engine is to connect to the intellectual property of others.
    In the Web's early days it was legally decided that linking to a site could require the site
    owner's permission -- a fact that has largely been forgotten out of both convenience and mutual
    benefit. But the nature of that law did establish (and does preserve) the rights holder's
    ownership and control of linkage to his property. This linkage is not compensated -- in fact
    it is reverse compensated in the case of AdWor
  • More & Less (Score:2, Insightful)

    Less stories about my beloved Google.com doing bad things for money. More stories about what our President, and his associates do for money. Whatever happened to those Enron guys, anyway?

    But seriously...

    Until they even prove/convict someone of something on a website like that, is it even fair, according to our legal system's Innocent Until Proven Guilty policy, to say that Google is advertising on websites engaged in illegal activity? I for one, like my warez, pr0n, and MP3s. And anything that helps keep th

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