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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 Githaron (2462596) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:16PM (#42936585)
    How are Bitcoins illegal?
  • One word: Bitcoin (Score:2, Interesting)

    by carlhaagen (1021273) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:18PM (#42936599)
    This is a very dangerous road Google is heading down on. Let's just see what happens.
  • Re:One word: Bitcoin (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:22PM (#42936649)

    And the site you use to convert your dollars to bitcoin will be illegal. What then?

  • by fermion (181285) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:25PM (#42936669) Homepage Journal
    I really wonder how much Google makes from these sites. It seems to me as powerful as google is, they could significantly disable these sites simply by not accepted revenue, modifying the search results to demote them, and punish sites who link to these sites.

    For many searches, I still get results that put link and ad farms at the top, while those that are more likely to give original information are demoted.

    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. if something is illegal, let the law take care of it. If Google wants to make the world a better place, start by trying to do so good, instead of just avoiding evil.

  • by Marillion (33728) <ericbardes.gmail@com> on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:25PM (#42936671)
    It hasn't been declared illegal ... yet. Governments do tend to regard the minting of legal tender as their exclusive purview. The bitcoin community would do well to regard bit coins as "scrip" or "tokens" and not "currency." Lawyers love to sink their teeth into the legal definitions of words as opposed the common usage of words.
  • by concealment (2447304) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:29PM (#42936727) Homepage Journal

    I think this could be great, and have unintended consequences that end up strengthening piracy.

    By driving out the for-profit pirates, you restore it to the hobbyists, who tend to have high standards and be somewhat fanatical.

    This will probably damage piracy of the vapid "big media" movies, music, etc. but will enhance piracy of niche markets and specialty genres, which will strengthen those through the "try before buy" principle among those who are likely to buy them anyway, if they like them.

    Google's policies have already somewhat achieved this model. Some of the best piracy for music at least is through Youtube these days. They take down the big acts, but you can find lots of obscure and older material (full albums) with a simple search.

    In many ways, this is the resolution between pirates and industry. Industry gets to protect its big money makers, which if pirated result in a loss of profits because they are only purchased for a short term (novelty value). Pirates get access to the vast breadth of information available that isn't in that single protected category.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:34PM (#42936793)
    Tell that to Wikileaks and its Visa/Mastercard friends... Google may have the best of the intentions but this opens the road for extra-judicial rulings.

    I hope judges strike Google & friends very hard if one of these "illegal" websites sue them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:40PM (#42936869)

    Gotta admit, I liked this when I read the headline, but was disappointed when I saw that this is targeted at media sharing and cites Wikileaks. Was really hoping Google was finally following the money in the anti-spam/malware fight. Oh well.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:46PM (#42936931)

    "innocent until proven guilty" only ever applied to criminal law. This is civil law at best. But more probably not even that. Visa and the other credit companies don't have to do business with any particular merchant. They are free to chose who to do business with and who not to.

    The danger here, and not a legal one but a moral one, is that it may be that Visa and the other credit companies trust Google to tell them who not to do business with. I don't think Google have proven themselves to be trustworthy enough to make such decisions. And the scale of their operation suggests they might automate it. Not good.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:51PM (#42936985)
    Bitcoin will always be a fringe currency. What Google is doing is encouraging a return to peer-to-peer filesharing, which I have no problem with.
  • Ah, I see (Score:4, Interesting)

    by davidwr (791652) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:59PM (#42937061) Homepage Journal

    The article refers to someone whose virtual currency "borrowed" significant elements from US currency. While his "medallions" weren't anywhere close to being replicas with US-mint-issued currency, there were enough elements to cause confusion about just who or what was backing the coins' value. Calling them "Liberty dollars" when that is the common name for a historical US coin probably didn't help.

    If he'd minted them as "Liberty Money," used units other than "dollars," "cents," or any other past or present unit used by the US government, and avoided words, coin-sizes, and other attributes that might cause confusion he would likely have been free and clear legally. If he went further and put "not backed by any government" or similar words on all coins and paper-money products, that would've been even better.

    His mistake wasn't making a second currency. His mistake was either not knowing the law and going out of his way to avoid even the appearance of violating it or knowing the law and being arrogant enough to dare the government to step in. If his goal was anything other than to go to jail, he failed. On the other hand, if his goal was to become a legal martyr and the money thing was just a means to an end, he succeeded.

  • States rights (Score:3, Interesting)

    by davidwr (791652) on Monday February 18, 2013 @01:06PM (#42937143) Homepage Journal

    Interestingly, States have the right to make gold and silver legal tender but they do not have the right to coin money.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Monday February 18, 2013 @01:42PM (#42937573)

    We still don't take BTC because it's a glorified Ponzi scheme. The founders make a crapload of money for very little effort and newbies get less and less as more and more people join. What's more because of the fixed maximum number of BTC that can come into existence, you're going to have a deflationary spiral that you can't escape eventually.

    The only people using BTC are people who are too stupid to realize what they're dealing with.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @01:46PM (#42937619)

    It is true that they probably do not like business that comes with to much hassle and trouble. But on the other end, I'm thinking of the banks that do business with criminal organisations likes drug cartels. They are *big* trouble, but also *big* money. As long as the profit is worth the trouble, they will do business with any (-one) criminal. Keep that in mind !

  • by Linsaran (728833) on Monday February 18, 2013 @01:56PM (#42937731) Homepage

    1. At the exchange rate of Bitcoin, a government could simply buy all the currency in the system and ruin it for everyone. It would take a couple hundred million dollars, which is barely blip on the radar compared to the budget of a typical industrialized nation. You would not need to buy all the currency, either; just buying a significant fraction of it would destabilize prices and drive people away.

    First, this requires that people are willing to sell, and if a single entity was buying up Bitcoins at that massive of a scale, you can bet the price (due to demand) would skyrocket. Then if the government effectively 'destroyed' said currency by not reintroducing it to the system, the value of the coins in the system (presuming a stable demand similar to what already exists), would remain high as the supply of coins would be drastically reduced. A government doing something like that would temporarily destabilize the market place, but wouldn't in any significant way impact the long term viability of bitcoins as a currency, if bit coins could bounce back from their 2011 market bubble, then obviously their viabilty as a currency can survive a period of temporary instability.

    The demand for Bitcoin is predicated on the existence of exchanges that allow Bitcoin to be traded for fiat currencies. Those exchanges are easy targets for a government wishing to ban Bitcoin within its borders.

    This would be a much more successful avenue of attack for a government trying to shut down bitcoins, however I think that it would be difficult to completely eradicate conversion between fiat currencies and bitcoins. All it takes is for one government to allow such a conversion to their local fiat currency, and you can convert that to litterally any other currency in the world. Sure it might take more hoops, but I'm sure there are more than a few nations that wouldn't mind some extra influx of value to their currency should a large portion of the world ban digital currency to fiat conversion.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Monday February 18, 2013 @02:12PM (#42937855)

    You're going to have to narrow it down - "opaque pretend-currency" describes the US Dollar as well as it describes Bitcoins.

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