FORTUNE -- Here's something that just about all of us other than the copyright lobby and certain policymakers already know: People looking for pirated content don't often use search engines to find it.
The copyright industries have long targeted Google (GOOG) and other search engines for directing people to illicit copies of movies and music. But that's not because search engines do a lot of the directing, it's because they make for an easy target, according to a new report titled "The Search Fixation: Infringement, Search Results, and Online Content" by Matt Schruers of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, a group that advocates for open systems and fair competition. (Update: the CCIA, it should be noted, counts Google, Facebook, and other interested parties among its members.)
The report targets in particular a "report card" issued in February by the Recording Industry Association of America that pinned blame for the piracy problem on Google. Six months after Google pledged to tweak its search algorithm to put sites that received a lot of DMCA takedown notices lower in its results, the RIAA declared that there was "no evidence that Google's policy has had a demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy," the RIAA wrote in its report card. "These sites consistently appear at the top of Google's search results for popular songs or artists."
Even if that's the case (which is dubious to begin with), it doesn't mean that many people are using Google to find pirated songs. The CCIA's report indicates that only about 8% of traffic to sites offering pirated material comes via Google. And of that, about one in five searches include the name of a pirate site alongside the song or artist, meaning those users had a particular destination in mind before they ran the search.
Sites like Pirate Bay and isoHunt have repeatedly said they don't get much traffic from search engines. IsoHunt says it's less than 25% and has claimed it would survive even if it got no traffic from search.
Those numbers don't tell the whole story. At least some and probably a good number of people first learn of particular pirate sites via search engines. Once they know about them, they go there directly. But that doesn't come anywhere close to making Google responsible for piracy. The report indicates that, in recent years, anyway, most people direct themselves to pirate sites, or are directed there through social media.
"Search results may receive disproportionate attention, however, because they are easily tested," notes the CCIA report. It's impossible to track all the various ways people discover and get to pirate sites, but it's easy to point to the results of a Google search and say: "See? Piracy!"
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By Kevin Kelleher, contributor
FORTUNE -- 2011 was a good year for Facebook. The social network was adding 100 million users every few months. It was on track for an IPO valued as high as $100 billion -- despite a dispirited stock market. And, perhaps most impressively, it had its archrival Google on the run.
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Larry Page's first as Google (GOOG) CEO. We're on hand live.
Revenues of $8.58 billion a 27% increase over first quarter 2010 revenues of $6.77 billion. Paid Clicks Up 18%; Cost Per Click Up 8%:
4:35PM: Larry Page dropped in to say everything is going as planned, specifically the Executive switchover. Also thanks Jonathan Rosenberg who is usually on these calls but announced his resignation last week..
4:40: CFO Patrick Pichette seems very excited about MORESeth Weintraub - Apr 14, 2011 3:09 PM ET
The introduction of the Google game also adds a search tool to the Googler's arsenal.
Yesterday, Google (GOOG) introduced "A Google A Day" –a game that produces a question a day and encourages users to solve the puzzle using Google's search engine. I'm not a crossword puzzle type but I imagine some people find this interesting. Obviously, it encourages people to use Google's search engine -which is clearly beneficial to Google both in MORESeth Weintraub - Apr 12, 2011 10:38 AM ET
With a new CEO and a departing Products VP, there is some room for interest.
Google (GOOG) announced today that their First Quater 2011 Financial Results conference call will take place on Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time (4:30 p.m. Eastern Time).
This will be the first earnings call under Larry Page who has a reputation for the unorthodox. Also, Google earnings calls are usually hosted by Product VP Jonathan MORESeth Weintraub - Apr 5, 2011 10:30 AM ET
Today's the day that co-founder and inventor of the PageRank algorithm takes back the reigns of Google, replacing Eric Schmidt who reigned over a successful decade of expansion.
In a surprise announcement at January's earnings call, Google (GOOG) announced that CEO Eric Schmidt would be stepping down and Larry Page would be replacing him.
Today's the day.
Although, Eric Schmidt's role as "Adult Supervisor" has been joked about, the stability he brought to the MORESeth Weintraub - Apr 4, 2011 11:53 AM ET
The collaborative abilities of Google's office products keep getting more robust.
In a Blog post today, Google (GOOG) announced that Docs will now have fullly integrated discussions ability.
Today, we're updating comments in Google Docs to facilitate rapid and seamless discussions and integrate with email in an intuitive way. Since there are a number of significant improvements, this update is only available for newly created documents for now.
Think of it as annotations on steroids. MORESeth Weintraub - Mar 16, 2011 12:27 PM ET
Keeping it all in the Google ad family...
Today, Google (GOOG) is sending some of its Admob mobile app developers some good news. The search giant will start placing Adsense ads inside of apps that use Google's Admob advertising. That means fill rate will skyrocket toward 100% and developers will get paid much more, across the board.
The move may also pull some of Apple's (AAPL) iAds user-developers away, especially those who MORESeth Weintraub - Mar 11, 2011 3:57 PM ET
Hoping to keep up the the Bings and Facebooks of the world and ideally pass them, Google now integrates connections into search results.
If Facebook won't let Google (GOOG) have access to its social graph, it is pretty clear that Google will go everywhere else, including its own Blogger platform, Twitter, LinkedIn and Yahoo (YHOO) Flickr.
The idea is pretty simple. When you log into Google, your friends on Twitter/Blogger/Flickr/LinkedIn, etc who have promoted MORESeth Weintraub - Feb 17, 2011 10:38 AM ET
Developer interest in Android is skyrocketing, as evidenced by the selling out of the I/O 2011 event in 59 minutes.
In a series of Tweets, Google (GOOG) VP Vic Gundotra details the quick-selling Google developer event which seems to indicate that developer interest in Android has increased markedly over the past few years.
Google I/O is a developer focused event that takes place in May at San Francisco's Moscone convention center. Last year, Google MORESeth Weintraub - Feb 7, 2011 2:08 PM ET
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