Hollywood study claims Google searches lead to online piracy

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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Pay no attention to the $12 movie ticket prices — Hollywood wants you to know that Internet users’ Google searches are largely to blame for the downloading of pirated content and a negative impact on movie ticket sales.

A study released on Wednesday by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) suggests that between 2010 and 2012, 82 percent of search queries that lead to copyright infringing film and TV content came from Internet users searching via Google.

During that same time period, the study suggests, “search engines influenced 20 percent of the sessions in which consumers accessed infringing TV or film content online between 2010 and 2012.”

MPAA chairman and CEO Chris Dodd, a former Democratic Senator from Connecticut, cited the study as evidence that “search engines bear responsibility for introducing people to infringing content — even people who aren’t actively looking for it.”

“The television and movie community is working every day to develop new and innovative ways to watch content online, and as the Internet gatekeepers, search engines share a responsibility to play a constructive role in not directing audiences to illegitimate content.,”said Dodd in a statement.

The debate over the negative impact of online piracy on content creators is nearly as old as the public Internet itself.

An MPAA-backed Carnegie Mellon study released in March suggests that online piracy has a strong negative effect on movie sales. A separate report released on Tuesday, sponsored by NBCUniversal, suggests that online piracy continues to rise.

However, members of the industry admit to have benefited from piracy.

Netflix recently admitted that it looks at what does well on piracy sites to determine which series it should purchase. HBO’s programming president, Michael Lombardo, admitted in March that online piracy did not negatively impact the DVD sales of the hit series, “Game of Thrones.”

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