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Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Google accused of aiding promoters of movie piracy
A few major media companies have alleged that internet search engine giant Google has benefited from the sale of pirated movies and providing business support to two websites suspected of offering access to illegal film downloads.

The companies have accused Google of being too close with two websites accused of providing access to illegal download, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Meanwhile, Google has assured the group of media companies that it would take measures to prevent a recurrence of the episode.

The media companies are considering launching their own service to compete with Google’s popular YouTube video web site, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported that Google sold advertising to two men who allegedly marketed an application designed to find and download pirated movies online, a business relationship that has angered big movie and TV studios.

The extent of Google’s involvement with this allegedly rogue operation has been detailed in sworn depositions taken as part of an ongoing civil lawsuit major Hollywood studios filed against these two men in October 2005.

The defendants said, under oath, that Google assigned them account representatives who assisted them with their Google advertisement campaigns, including offering them credit and suggesting they use keywords like “bootleg movie download” and “pirated” to promote their websites.

EasyDownloadCenter.com and TheDownloadPlace.com generated New Zealand $1.6 million in revenue between 2003 and 2005, and Google received $1.2 million for advertising, the Wall Street Journal reported.

On learning that the defendants used Google to market their software, the plaintiffs – which include News Corporation, Viacom, Sony, NBC Universal, Time Warner and Disney – complained to the search engine company.

The accusation comes amid negotiations between Google and the big film and TV studios over the unauthorised use of copyrighted programming by YouTube, a free video website that Google bought in 2006 after the site quickly became a cultural phenomenon.

Media companies regard internet piracy – the unauthorised online transfer of movies, music and other copyrighted content – as a major threat to their businesses and claim it has already cost them billions of dollars.

Yet, Wall Street Journal says, the media companies acknowledge that consumers want the convenience of downloads and the companies do not want to miss out on a potential business opportunity or try to block downloads completely, as the music industry for a time unsuccessfully sought to do.

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posted by a correspondent @ 8:44 PM    
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