The High Court of Paris decided this week that Google and Bing are under no obligation to try and prevent piracy by filtering out torrent-related searches. The problems with taking such drastic measures is the fact that it would be casting too wide a net and could potentially filter out torrent sites which offer legitimate content.
Groups within the entertainment industry have long taken issue with search engines for not doing more to prevent sites offering pirated content from showing up in search results. An industry group in France called SNEP took the issue all the way to the High Court of Paris.
SNEP’s demands included that both Google and Bing implement automated filters. The group wanted all search results featuring the word “torrent” to be blocked, as well as all websites which feature the word torrent in their domain name.
The High Court ruled against the industry group, which means Google and Bing are free to serve torrent-related search results as they always have. The Court illustrates the flaws of conceding to SNEP’s requests:
“SNEP’s requests are general, and pertain not to a specific site but to all websites accessible through the stated methods, without consideration for identifying or even determining the site’s content, on the premise that the term ‘Torrent’ is necessarily associated with infringing content,”
The Court adds that a torrent is by nature a neutral communication protocol that can be used to access lawfully downloading files. Therefore complying with SNEP’s requests may end up blocking access to lawful websites.
For it’s trouble, the High Court has ordered the music industry group to pay Google and Bing $10,000 to cover its legal fees and costs.