April 18, 2012 – 12:18 pm

In a new interview where he outlines his fears for the future of freedom on the Internet, Google co-founder Sergey Brin slams the entertainment industry for its response to piracy. While lobbying for Chinese and Iranian-style censorship measures, Brin says the music and movie companies have failed to understand that it is their approach to making content available that fuels the problems. Enigmax reports for Torrentfreak.

Instead of the entertainment industry beating up the little guys on the issue of piracy, in 2011 and early 2012 they went for the nuclear legislative option. The ensuing battle for the free flow of information online polarized the Internet.

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) became the acronyms on everyone’s lips and then, just when it seemed the netizens of the free world were about to be outgunned, something amazing happened. Tech giants such as Google and Wikipedia joined the protests, the balance of power tipped, and Hollywood and the music industry were forced into retreat.

With SOPA dead but with the whispers on CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) getting louder, Google co-founder Sergey Brin has been voicing his concerns for the future of freedom on the Internet.

In an interview with The Guardian, Brin spoke of “scary” developments which have seen powerful forces “line up against the open internet on all sides and around the world.”

From repressive regimes such as China, Iran and Saudi Arabia which seek to control access to the Internet and restrict the communications of their citizens, to companies like Apple and Facebook which tightly control their platforms making search engine indexing impossible, online threats are growing.

So given the scale of the threats listed above, one might expect the issue of intellectual property enforcement to be less of a priority for Brin, but the opposite is true.

As the protesters recently made clear, the introduction of PIPA or SOPA would have seen the United States follow Iran and China down a dangerous one-way street of increasing web censorship using the very same technologies the US has been critical of in the past.

Brin says that by lobbying for legislation that has the potential to bring such censorship to the West, the entertainment industry is “shooting itself in the foot, or maybe worse than in the foot.”

Following up on comments last week in which the RIAA finally admitted that innovation is the best tool for tackling piracy, Brin said that the piracy problem would continue as long as people found it easier than using legitimate offerings.

“I haven’t tried it for many years but when you go on a pirate website, you choose what you like; it downloads to the device of your choice and it will just work,” Brin explained, adding that the restrictive mechanisms employed by authorized sites only represent artificial walls and “disincentives for people to buy.”

The entertainment industries insist that Google doesn’t do enough to fight piracy (and might even get sued as a result), but it’s increasingly clear that through the haze of war, Google will object to anything that stops it going about its own legitimate business.

An artificially limited web, with corporate controlled restrictions such as walled gardens or court-ordered censorship, are a direct threat to that. Accessibility is what Google needs to grow its business - maybe the entertainment industries do too.

Note: Visit TorrentFreak for more updates.


  2. So many things are muddled together in this article/essay. Censorship means governments stifling free speech, which is not the same thing as a corporation trying to prevent people from making unauthorized, free copies of their content. Shutting down file sharing, if it were possible, doesn’t mean stopping people from giving away copies of their own work for free (if they so choose), or stopping people from expressing their opinions in public forums. In other words, censorship isn’t a catch-all word for “someone more powerful than me stopping me from doing whatever I want to do.” People use that term in an attempt to make the desire for unlimited free stuff into some sort of noble moral battle, like Rosa Parks meets BitTorrent. Please.

    By Doctor Benway on Apr 20, 2012

  3. But the problem with both of those issues is inherent in the solutions - the solution to one enables and encourages the other. Just about every solution that combats file sharing can and has been used to censor.

    By Jim Cox on Apr 26, 2012

  4. I’m not a fan of DRM. I’m also, though, not a fan of pircay. I think we need to be honest about this pircay is a problem. DRM is not the solution we’d like, but until pircay can be controlled, we’re forced into an unattractive choice either we accept the fact that many potential buyers will take advantage of our product without paying or we encumber our product with a costly and clumsy add-on that reduces its functionality. Just because I don’t like either of these outcomes doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the need to make a choice. The choice I’ve made is against DRM. That doesn’t mean it’s the only choice or even the right choice.

    By Jeanette on Mar 8, 2015

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