Google Stands Against PROTECT IP

Melanie Gross
May 19, 2011
Updated • Mar 19, 2015

Last week a bill was tabled in the American senate that would allow the Department of Justice to take out a court order against sites accused of infringing copyright. Google’s Erik Schmidt came out strongly against the bill in London on the 18th. Is this an attempt on Google to do no evil, or is there more at stake for the company here?

The bill, called PROTECT IP, would allow the Department of Justice to seek a court order against sites accused of copyright violations. The order would be served against ISPs, internet advertisers, domain name providers and search engines. The site thus targeted would be required to disappear as soon as possible.

Eric Schmidt said that Google would not support the bill if it were to be passed. He said: “"If there is a law that requires DNSs to do X and it's passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President of the United States and we disagree with it then we would still fight it.” ... “If it's a request the answer is we wouldn't do it, if it's a discussion we wouldn't do it."

On one hand, supporters of free speech are applauding Google’s stance. There are far too many stories of content creators who have had their content pulled due to DMCA violations that either were not violations or were an unfair use of a draconian law. Giving even more weight to that law seems unwise if your major concern is the freedom of information. Critics fear that the bill would give the government a way to vanish sites at will.

The central problem with Schmidt’s pronouncement is that Google’s stance has not been quite so clear in the past. Not long ago, the company was threatening to remove the Pirate Bay and other sites like it from AdSense, and attempting to stop block terms connected with piracy from the instant search function.

Even as recently as April, Google’s general counsel Kent Walker was in front of Congress testifying as to Google’s antipiracy solutions. He outlined what Google has done thus far, but did caution against strong antipiracy measures that might create problems of their own. He was not nearly as outspoken as Schmidt.

So, why the switch? Why is Google all of a sudden not quite so willing to give the boot to piracy sites? Could it have something to do with the fact that when it was in favor of restrictions on piracy sites, it was attempting to garner deals with the record industry for its music service? Now that it’s released the service without need for licenses, maybe it’s not quite so willing to play ball with the big label companies.

It’s refreshing to see someone willing to stand up to the government in favor of free speech. I only hope that Google’s motives have as much to do with rights as it does with their business strategies.

What are your thoughts? What do you think of Schmidt’s stance? What do you think of the US bill? Do you think the bill will pass?


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Progress Demander said on May 20, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I work for Demand Progress, an advocacy group that has been working to oppose PROTECT IP and its predecessor COICA. Its so good to hear Google finally returning to its original aspiration of “Don’t be evil”.

    What we’ve recently learned (a report came out in the past couple days laying this out) is that most if not all digital copyright legislation that has been introduced in the US and UK comes from lobbyist information, not verifiable research. This is a pretty disturbing revelation considering the depth and breadth of the laws that are being proposed.

    If you’re interested in this issue check out our petition and sign on to stop these ridiculous bills.

  2. Roman ShaRP said on May 19, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Of course, I’m on people’s side – and people never back that legislation. Demand to make providers “copyright police” was never popular.

    On May 2 one of my favorite authors presented his latest book in my city. I made a record to share his presentation with people. Perfectly legal and permitted.

    And when I put it on Depositfiles, I couldn’t make a post with link to it to Livejournal: engine was giving me errors “problem with content of your post”.

    But that’s outrageous! I didn’t share the book, just record from presentation about it.

    I don’t want any “copyright police” between me and Internet.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.