The Pirate Google: making the point that Google's as guilty of linking to torrents as The Pirate Bay


When The Pirate Bay was ordered shut down by the Swedish courts because it linked to infringing torrents on the Internet, many people pointed out that Google links to whole mountains' -- whole planets' -- worth of infringing stuff. Now, to make the point, comes The Pirate Google, a Google mashup that finds torrent files: "The intention of this site is to demonstrate the double standard that was exemplified in the recent Pirate Bay Trial. Sites such as Google offer much the same functionality as The Pirate Bay and other Bit Torrent sites but are not targeted by media conglomerates such as the IFPI as they have the political and legal clout to defend themselves unlike these small independent sites."

The Pirate Google (via Everything is Miscellaneous)

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  1. Opps… looks like the big “G” got wind of this and shut the custom search engine out.

    Arrr!

  2. You can try to twist and justify things all you want, but in the end you have to admit that pirate bay was in the wrong.

  3. @Rider
    Ted “Lurch” Cassidy performs “The Lurch”
    April 17, 2009 4:05pm

    “So I had to wait like 2 minutes for the video to load. then I get to watch about 20 seconds of it before redirected to a full page ad.”

    Were you complaining or commenting on how enjoyable the ad was? twisted huh

  4. As many people have pointed out, there’s a major difference between The Pirate Bay and Google: The Pirate Bay was made for, and intended to carry out, copyright infringement. It’s all about intent. Yes, Google can be used to search for torrents, but that wasn’t the intended use of the service.

    2am tangent that I probably shouldn’t go on because I’m overtired: I think we need to make it clear that this debate has nothing to do with uploading and downloading movies. It has to do with copyright, intellectual freedom, cultural sharing and propagation, and the flow of information. If you really want to get people on the side of the copyfighters, don’t focus on the movie pirates who operate on morally dubious grounds — focus on the fact that people are sued for singing “Happy Birthday”. “I can get sued for singing a song in public” is going to resonate with people a lot more than “They’re taking my free movies away.”

  5. Doesn’t seem to work anymore- I get this message:

    “Forbidden
    Your client does not have permission to get URL /custom?cx=013970662668203892549%3Arw2up8zaqxe&ie=UTF-8&q=wolverine&sa=Search&as_q=filetype%3Atorrent&adkw=AELymgVXqs3DuD5MZO_LoTdspGq-ZZzU6U1ZqYgwtCRHkLqY4FbiORDAudYVGRr_JUqDIYByurKeABiksv1QXEP4Nsil21sakZyUYSEcYn42BbNSr3_qErE&cof=AH%3Aleft%3BALC%3A%230000CC%3BBGC%3A%23FFFFFF%3BCX%3ATorrent%2520Files%2520Only%3BDIV%3A%23CCCCCC%3BFORID%3A13%3BGALT%3A%23008000%3BGFNT%3A%23000000%3BGIMP%3A%23000000%3BL%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.thepirategoogle.com%2Fimages%2Fpgslogo01.png%3BLC%3A%230000CC%3BLH%3A0%3BLP%3A1%3BS%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.ThePirateGoogle.com%3BT%3A%23000000%3BVLC%3A%23551A8B%3B&hl=en&oe=UTF-8&client=pub-4744866277414915 from this server. (Client IP address: 98.14.94.110)

    We apologize for your inconvenience, but this request could not be processed.

    Please click here to continue your search on Google.”

  6. You say The Pirate Bay was ordered shut down by the Swedish courts because it linked to infringing torrents on the Internet, but have you seen what the court’s decision actually was, or the reasoning behind it? (If this is released by Swedish courts — it would be by an American one).

    There are obvious differences between a site that indexes torrent files and laughs at those who try to enforce copyright (The Pirate Bay), a site that indexes torrents and has a clear takedown process (other torrent sites), and sites that index everything and act as a general search engine (Google).

    While it is possible to interpret a conviction of The Pirate Bay as an attack on search engines, it is more likely to be uniquely related to the manner in which The Pirate Bay ignored copyright holders and encouraged users to violate copyright.

    I’m actually more than a little surprised that I haven’t found a copy of the actual decision and reasoning behind it anywhere. I suspect that’s because it doesn’t actually back up anybody’s arguments regarding the decision’s impact on copyright law or enforcement.

  7. Google has shut any connection with that site down for days and you come up with this post without actually trying to search something with it?

  8. Argh.

    so if google be the pirate….

    then pirate bay must be the pegboy…

    arrrgh..

    takin’ it up the behind for the betterment of its peers.

  9. Those of you trying to search for torrents using google, just throw a little “filetype:torrent” to the end of your search. This is a feature of Google’s advanced search, and is just plain knowing how to Google stuff.

  10. “You can try to twist and justify things all you want, but in the end you have to admit that pirate bay was in the wrong.”

    Are you talking wrong in the legal sense?

    In the legal sense, maybe you’re correct (We’ll have to wait and see what happens with the biaseness of the judge and also what the higher courts have to say about how swedish law applies to what the people behing thepiratebay.org have done).

    In the human or divine or absolute or whatever else sense, you’re of course wrong.

    Nowadays we can deliver information, knowledge and culture to everyone virtually for free. It is obvious that we should be copying our asses off.

  11. @Rider: Sure TPB was wrong, but then again you can’t defend the RIAA’s attack on its own customers either. Who’s counting anyway?

  12. @Remmalt: Why should one try to defend the indefensible merely because their opponents are similarly indefensible.

    Neither the Pirate Bay nor the RIAA are in the right here, and it is unfortunate that so many people think they need to choose a particular side.

  13. I really like that if you click the google link they automatically add “filetype:torrent” :-)

  14. Miscellaneous stuff:

    1) I’ve been able to write ‘miscellaneous’ without the help of my spell checker.

    2) Writing ‘filetype:torrent’ at the end of a search is a hundred times less effective than simply adding the word ‘torrent’.

    3) It is a generally accepted principle that when a law or a regulation is ignored by the vast majority of the population, that law or regulation is wrong. We have to revise the notion of intellectual property itself.

    4) In less than 5 minutes Googling I found out how to make a pipe bomb, in details, with video examples; how to make a nuclear device; how to poison somebody without leaving too many traces; how to go around the law to mount a pyramid scheme; how to make borscht … the take down policies of most if not all the torrent search engines make it much more difficult (but not always impossible) to find the same information using their tools.

  15. yeah it still works:) just click the “here” link from google and you’re ready to go:)

    happy torrents!

  16. There are also public domain torrents, so searching for a torrent doesn’t always mean you’re searching for something illegal.

    the pirate bay was too cocky about it, openly flouting copyright law.

  17. So it is all about attitude.
    If you is a dirty punkin pirate disrespecting the old guard then you should be in a federal pound.
    If you is a sweet cheerleader then the same linking crimes will be overlooked.

  18. Isn’t the problem with the Pirate Bay also that they operate a tracker? That’s something google doesn’t do.

  19. @IamInnocent, April 26, 2009 4:15 AM

    I agree with your points completely, especially point 3. Given such a large number of people find the copyright laws too stupid to accept, then they act in accordance.

    TPB is really an expression of this thinking. The outcome of their appeal will be very interesting.

    I’m curious as to what the naysayers will do if it turns out that the TPB are vindicated and the decision is overturned. Will they call come back and say “Oh well, there you go. What they were doing WASN’T really illegal!”?

    I doubt it.

    If these companies spent more time on what the community was interested in, they’d find more support and make a better fist of their business future. As it is, they’re sticking their fist in places I’d rather not discuss and their finger in the eye of the community at large.

    The ‘evidence’ that TPB’s activities help cheat anyone of money is far from proven and in some research it is contradicted entirely.

    I’d say to them “Get with the 21st Century and bring your business model up-to-date or you will merely go the way of the steam train and telegram.”

  20. I have not seen the details of the decision, but I am not sure this is only abount indexing torrent files (as any good search engine does),

    it might also (and mostly) be about hosting torrent trackers (i.e. providing the service which tracks locations of a given ressource, the torrent file is then a kind of key to a specific service, not more).

    Sorry if it was already well known, but the content of the article and the subsequent comments suggest it is not perfectly clear to everyone.

  21. Ignoring all the moral/legal “right and wrongs”, I’d like to point out a case where pirating has actually done some good.

    Two years ago Romanian President Traian Basescu flat out told Bill gates that piracy helped build their IT industry. And it’s true! In those post-soviet and developing countries people cant afford the bajillion dollar M$ products.

    Piracy Worked for Us

    Romanian IT folk (and hackers) are some of the most proficient in the world.

  22. If Google has ‘Clear Takedown Policies’, Then until “[game|movie] torrent” returns zero results, they want me to download it!

  23. Like the police/facebook incident, Boingboing has again found itself supporting a stupid, worthless point on the morally right side of the argument.

  24. It’s all about intent. Yes, Google can be used to search for torrents, but that wasn’t the intended use of the service.

    So you’re in favor of thoughtcrime?

    Intent is nebulous and therefore irrelevant. Technical reality (i.e. human action) is all that can be assessed, and there for relevant.

    The Pirate Bay committed no copyright infringement; they merely ran a search engine. They did nothing wrong.

    Isn’t the problem with the Pirate Bay also that they operate a tracker? That’s something google doesn’t do.

    A tracker is a search engine.

    .torrent files are actually just fancy URLs.

    You can try to twist and justify things all you want, but in the end you have to admit that pirate bay was in the wrong.

    Just as the Underground Railroad was “in the wrong” in actively undermining the legal institution of slavery in the United States?

    Actually, it’s this bogus government-granted monopoly of “copyright” that’s wrong.

  25. “Intent is nebulous and therefore irrelevant.”

    You just threw out a huge chunk of established legal precedent in an entire spectrum of law fields.

    Good luck convincing a judge.

  26. You just threw out a huge chunk of established legal precedent in an entire spectrum of law fields. Good luck convincing a judge.

    Agreed. However, law is merely a social convention. In reality, the means have yet to exist to assess intent. Reality trumps social convention. To (apocryphally) quote Galileo at his Inquisition, “It moves all the same.”

    Of course, Galileo didn’t convince his judge either.

  27. Pirate Bay have a disclaimer saying ‘The responsibility lies upon the user to not spread malicious, false or illegal material using the tracker.’

    i.e. their published intent is not to break the law. If you want to prove intent in court you’d have to find some proof.

    If they wrote down their ‘secret plans for stealing movies’, and you find that document then you can prove intent. But if you’re just assuming intent from what the users of the site do, then you’re into the thoughtcrime prosecution Zuzu is talking about.

  28. “Agreed. However, law is merely a social convention. In reality, the means have yet to exist to assess intent. Reality trumps social convention. To (apocryphally) quote Galileo at his Inquisition, “It moves all the same.””

    And we’ve moved from fixing intellectual property law to redesigning society from the ground up. And some wonder why these movements don’t gain more popular traction…

  29. And we’ve moved from fixing intellectual property law to redesigning society from the ground up. And some wonder why these movements don’t gain more popular traction…

    Given the massive popularity of copyright infringement, I’d say that the movement against “intellectual property” is growing at an accelerating rate.

    Soon, legal sanction against “copyright infringement” will seem as silly as your or I being “excommunicated” would be today.

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — R. Buckminster Fuller

  30. “Given the massive popularity of copyright infringement, I’d say that the movement against “intellectual property” is growing at an accelerating rate.”

    I’d say that’s a false assumption. While intellectual property laws are broken and as written they are going to go by the wayside very soon, I also don’t think we are anywhere near a complete rejection of the idea of intellectual propery, as many in the copyfight movement would like to see.

  31. Cockiness is not a crime. And that, in the end, is what sank TPB. The IP lords bought themselves a judge – in a real sense, as he was a member of a new copyright support group.

    TPB did nothing that Google doesn’t do. It indexed links. Apparently you can go to prison if you point out you aren’t illegal and laugh at your accuser.

  32. @Felix – thepiratebay.org/tv/ – a linkable directory of tv shows available from their front page, which never seems to be discussed when we talk about how they ‘can’t help what content is available on their site’.

    I think anyone defending pirate bay is being incredibly disingenuous, just because they’re the enemy of our enemy doesn’t make them legally or morally inculpable.

  33. The way Bit Torrent works is by giving you a file that tells your computer how to connect to another computer on the internet that has a list of other people who you can download from. A website like Pirate Bay gives out those Bit Torrent list files but doesn’t have any thing else for download. Pirate Bay has no music, movies, no books, no TV shows, no video games, nothing that’s copyrighted on it, only Bit Torrent lists. So what Pirate Bay does it tell people how to download files and taunts the government.

    What if I give out information that could lead to a crime being committed, should I also be arrested or sued? For example, if I tell my neighbor that the place up the street offering “private lingerie modeling” is really a brothel and he gets arrested there, should I also go to jail? Should I get arrested or sued if I taunt the government? For example, if I’m stopped at a red light and stick my tongue out at a cop and say, “Ha-ha! You can’t get me running a red light!” do I still get a ticket for not stopping?

  34. If someone started a tracker that traded child pornography, no one would be defending them saying “they only host the torrent files, they don’t actually have any child porn.”

  35. Armchair lawyers will be armchair lawyers. I guess it’s hard for people to see the other side of the fence when they’re not creating a sellable product that can easily be copied for free.

  36. Quote – When The Pirate Bay was ordered shut down by the Swedish courts because it linked to infringing torrents on the Internet –

    the pirate bay was never ordered to shut down. the site is still up and running. in fact, the number of daily hits it recieves has increased substantialy since the trial.

  37. There is intent, but Google is making money from contextual ads on searches for BitTorrent clients and trackers alike.

    Of course, these people aren’t all suggesting that Google should start to block torrent sites or anything similar – but you’d better watch what disparities you highlight. Eventually someone will look at Google and start trying to pressure them into moderating their searches. Small wins like that against the TPB embolden the bastards.

  38. boyfinley: thepiratebay.org/tv/ – a linkable directory of tv shows available from their front page, which never seems to be discussed when we talk about how they ‘can’t help what content is available on their site’.

    Are you saying that it’s illegal to trade any and all TV shows?

    I don’t know about the jurisdiction you’re in, but several countries have tax-funded TV stations and shows, which usually means that citizens are entitled to store and swap the content in any way they please, as long as they don’t charge for it.

  39. Soon, legal sanction against “copyright infringement” will seem as silly as your or I being “excommunicated” would be today.

    Heh. Well said.

  40. boyfinley: thepiratebay.org/tv/ – a linkable directory of tv shows available from their front page[…]

    And now, since you’re letting me know where I can get pirated TV shows, you’re committing the same crime as the Pirate Bay.

    I think that’s pretty ironic.

    Do you agree that you should receive a one-year jail sentence and a huge fine?
    Or do you argue that your information-sharing is somehow different?

  41. If someone started a tracker that traded child pornography, no one would be defending them saying “they only host the torrent files, they don’t actually have any child porn.”

    The problem with child porn is the people making it (i.e. the act of exploiting children). The media itself is actually harmless.

    Likewise, consider the Tuskegee Experiments. The data itself is inert, and likely useful for understanding syphilis. However, the method by which the data was obtained was severely unethical.

    Or, consider the several articles here on BoingBoing about minors who voluntarily and autonomously send each other nude photos with their mobile phones, and later arrested for “child porn”. Were those minors ever actually “exploiting themselves”?

  42. For spazm:

    LOL. You’re a genius. Seriously, I was like “that other guy is screwed when he reads this.”

  43. The comparison with Google is mostly valid. But TPB runs a tracker, that’s a significant difference.

  44. “The problem with child porn is the people making it (i.e. the act of exploiting children). The media itself is actually harmless.”

    Are you speaking from experience?

  45. While google may easily let you search for pirate torrents, it’s really intended to do a whole lot of legal stuff,too and is used for the legal purposes a whole lot more often than the illegal ones by most people.

    Accusing google of enabling the illegal filesharing is like trying to hold car manufacturers responsible for the drive-by shootings. Yes, some people use cars to commit drive-bys. But cars are not created to facilitate shooting and they are used by most people most of the time for their intended legal transportation purposes. Junkies cook up their heroin in spoons, but that doesn’t mean that spoon makers should be held responsible for the actions of the drug users. Most people use spoons for serving and eating food. That’s the main thing they’re designed for. While google can be used for bad things, it’s not designed with that intent or used primarily for that.

    Just because a product can be used in an illegal act doesn’t mean that the company should take the blame for the user’s illegal actions.

  46. The only reason we’re even having this ridiculous conversation is because of years of propaganda.

    What bizarre world do we live in where “copyright” means the right to censor everyone else?

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