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Piracy Your Rights Online

Google Looks To Cut Funds To Illegal Sites 347

Posted by samzenpus
from the drying-up-the-well dept.
rbrandis writes "Google is in discussions with payment companies including Visa, MasterCard and PayPal to put illegal download websites out of existence by cutting off their funding. If Google goes ahead with the radical move, it would not mark the first time that illegal websites have been diminished or driven out of business by having a block put on their source of money."
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Google Looks To Cut Funds To Illegal Sites

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:08PM (#42936509)

    Thanks Google/banks for killing your own model and building the strength of your sucessor.

  • Not a Fan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmrieger (2695923) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:09PM (#42936515)
    If it's left up to one Government to determine what is and is not an illegal site, this is ripe for abuse. Or, what if Google decides that a site (lets say, Mega) is illegal, when in fact it's not?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:10PM (#42936531)

    Google? This is why Bitcoin is necessary. We can't continue having commercial entities controlling the money flow.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:11PM (#42936541)

    Who decides what website is illegal? A website that may be deemed illegal in one country may not be in another.
    This was the case with WikiLeaks and how their funding was diminished. The same would be the case with phone unlocking sites fro example.

  • by Goaway (82658) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:17PM (#42936589) Homepage

    Thanks to bitcoin, people can exercise their freedom to get rich off other people's hard work!

  • youtube (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_Bionic_lemming (446569) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:17PM (#42936591)

    Isn't Google making money via advertising on youtube with all the posted videos that are infringing on copyrights?

  • by amiga3D (567632) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:19PM (#42936619)

    All it takes is the stroke of a pen.

  • Re:Not a Fan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:21PM (#42936635) Homepage

    Or wikileaks...

  • by wfstanle (1188751) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:21PM (#42936641)

    Cutting off funding should not be decided by business, the courts should make that decision. Garnted, the operators of such a website may be scumbags but they still deserve their day in court.

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:28PM (#42936713)
    From TFA:

    the plans, still in discussion, would also block funding to websites that do not respond to legal challenges, for example because they are offshore.

    So, if the "legal challenges" have a basis in fact, why not use existing laws? Sounds like a mechanism to make American laws apply to everyone in the world. And they don't even have to prove guilt, just send a threat from a lawyer, which is rightfully ignored, then Google pulls the plug on the site's income, site erased.

  • Stupid move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by king neckbeard (1801738) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:31PM (#42936747)
    Giving in to RIAA thugs won't make them demand any less, but will instead make them see themselves entitled to that and more. Google shouldn't be rubbing their back, they should be bloodying their noses.
  • by sirwired (27582) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:32PM (#42936769)

    If BitCoin becomes the "currency" of choice for the "underground economy" (a position for which it is well suited... about the only thing it's well-suited for), I don't think it's going to terrify Google or Visa/MC all that much. They don't WANT that business; it causes too many legal/regulatory hassles.

  • by poetmatt (793785) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:36PM (#42936819) Journal

    who/how do you define an "illegal download site"?

    Is this "they host the files", or is this torrent sites that host no files? This matters, as one of those is not even illegal.

  • by Artraze (600366) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:40PM (#42936871)

    Once upon a time there was this thing "innocent until proven guilty" which meant that stuff wasn't declared in violation of the law until that violation was argued and confirmed. People had a right to a defense. Think that's going to happen here? Or is this going to be 'shoot first, ask questions never' like the rest of internet enforcement? How many fair use sites will just have their money stolen from them (usually when these sorts of decisions happen, they also take any owed money for the last payment period... usually a month) without any ability to argue their case?

    Also, keep in mind that 'illegal' in these sorts of cases very often means more like 'things we don't like' and will intentionally sweep up any not-even-gray zone stuff that they don't want to deal with. Hosting an image board / cloud storage / video share? Except to be black listed the moment some troll posts something illegal no matter how fast the mods pull it down or even if you comply with the DMCA.

    (And if you don't believe me, see how funding was cut for WikiLeaks, despite the fact that publishing classified material is not a crime. Publishing certain secrets can be, but was that proven before funding was cut? Nope. As I understand it, despite their best efforts, they still have yet to find anything illegal about WikiLeaks's behavior.)

  • by horza (87255) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:46PM (#42936933) Homepage

    A think a lot of us didn't take Bitcoin seriously until we saw what happened to Wikileaks. The incredible power of VISA to simply cut off global funding to any entity at a keystroke with zero accountability to anybody. Whereas prior the idea of Bitcoin would be seen as "too much effort", a lot of people could now be pushed into giving it a try.

    Phillip.

  • by davidwr (791652) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:50PM (#42936969) Homepage Journal

    "Legal tender" is anything the government says it is.

    "Currency" is anything two or more transacting parties say it is. "Goodwill," "reputation," "an understanding that if I do this for you, you'll do something for me later," and the like are all "currencies" in this sense.

    In a more tangible sense, soldiers in WWII used unopened packs of cigarettes as currency, even though it had no legal backing whatsoever. In some American cities, street people have used bus tokens and other useful items that could later be exchanged for a needed good or service as currency, again, without legal backing.

    I'm not ignoring your last sentence, but until or unless Bitcoin-holders attempt to seek the same status for Bitcoins that non-domestic sovereign-backed currencies have, I don't think there will be a problem. From a legal standpoint, bitcoins are more analogous to limited-edition art prints, where "limited" is a very high finite number and where everyone has the ability to, with some expense on their part, create new prints until the limit is reached. This is only a legal analogy, in practical terms Bitcoins are a lot easier to transfer than a paper art print.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 18, 2013 @01:06PM (#42937147) Journal

    To me this looks like Google is trying to make sure that if it can't make money on something, no one can. I don't see why it has the right to go out and strong arm other private companies.

    Because they can.

    This is economic power, libertarians. It's a real thing. If you were running a search-dependent company Google was targeting, would you survive until a popular Google competitor arises? And they're not doing this under direct legal threat, they could just as easily cut companies off for business or even personal reasons.

  • by jd659 (2730387) on Monday February 18, 2013 @01:26PM (#42937409)
    From TFA: “In 2011, Visa, Mastercard and PayPal, cut off all donations to WikiLeaks, the controversial website headed by Julian Assange”

    If assisting with cutting off funds to sites like Wikileaks is what Google is intending to do, this can set a very bad precedence. While WikiLeaks is controversial, it is not be illegal. It hasn’t been even charged with any crime. But let’s say it does get charged with some random US law from 1918 and, in the court of law, is pronounced to be “illegal” in the US, does it mean the funds will be cut off to Wikileaks globally? What if the Wikileaks is based in Sweden and I live in Norway, would I be able to give funds to Wikileaks? Would Google prevent me in any way? How far would this ban go?

    What if Iran sued New York Times and declared it to be illegal. Should Google then prevent the transfer of funds to New York Times because it was found to be illegal there? If Google decides to have different blocking policies based on the geographical location of the user, this can lead to breaking up the internet. Besides, we know there are plenty of technologies that allow users to spoof/change the location on the web. Will banning VPN and Tor be the next big thing?

    --
    There’s no such thing as “illegal download”
  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday February 18, 2013 @01:54PM (#42937709)

    Wikileaks didn't do anything that every major newpaper in the country has done at some point or another. Newspapers are dying and the Feds have everyone convinced that "The internet" is not legitimate media despite the fact it's replacing newsprint. Good luck hearing any bad news 20 years from now.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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