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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

French Court May Order Google to Filter Search Results

The outfit called SNEP represents French music royalties and has been trying for many years to make the search giant apply harsher anti-piracy policies regarding its autocomplete feature and the association of musical terms with keywords like torrent, RapidShare or MegaUpload. Apparently, SNEP may succeed now.


Although the autocomplete feature is meant to make searching more efficient, French music royalty group SNEP is doing its best to make the search giant apply changes to the feature’s core code in the desperate attempt to discourage piracy. In the outfit’s view, the company is doing the opposite by associating the two variables – music and piracy terms. This makes it easier for the average Internet users to find and download copyrighted content.

Fortunately, the local court didn’t agree with SNEP and two years ago it rejected the request, saying that the terms’ transparency doesn’t encourage unauthorized downloading of copyrighted content. The outfit tried to appeal the decision a year later, but without success. Finally, the Court of Cassation decided recently that the Court of Appeal violated a key clause of the country’s laws on intellectual property. In other words, the court agreed that the royalty group has all the rights to demand to prevent or stop such an attack on copyright or related rights. So, now the case will move to the Court of Appeal for another round of debates.

SNEP is obviously happy with the latest court decision, saying that it shows the search engines should be responsible for regulating the web. In response, Google reminded everyone that while they take very seriously online violations, autocomplete is just an automatic response system to the people’s search terms.

The most interesting part of this story is that even though the outfit initially failed to force the company change their autosuggest, Google did start to censor some phrases. The search giant said last December that it would play nice with the famous record labels, TV networks, and film studios, by ensuring better protection against piracy on the interwebs. Respectively, different search terms and file-sharing sites have been erased from the engine’s not-altogether spotless mind.

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