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347 comments

AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936509)

Thanks Google/banks for killing your own model and building the strength of your sucessor.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936549)

bitcoins are illegal and the possession, transfer or exchange of bitcoins will be made illegal within 5 years. Remember where you read it first. I make policy.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (1, Interesting)

Githaron (2462596) | about a year ago | (#42936585)

How are Bitcoins illegal?

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (4, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#42936619)

All it takes is the stroke of a pen.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (4, Funny)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about a year ago | (#42936683)

Bitcoin reportedly tried to buy off a number of politicians, but the pols reneged when the bribes were provided in some sort of opaque pretend-currency.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (2)

dmbasso (1052166) | about a year ago | (#42936705)

Indeed, but it will be interesting to see how they're going to regulate virtual currencies. How to make a linden coin legal while criminalizing bitcoins?

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (2)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#42936795)

anything is in that category.

For the time being however, there is no such stroke of the pen. It's also a whole hell of a lot harder to restrict a digital currency.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (4, Interesting)

Marillion (33728) | about a year ago | (#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.

Difference between "currency" and "legal tender" (5, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42936969)

"Legal tender" is anything the government says it is.

"Currency" is anything two or more transacting parties say it is. "Goodwill," "reputation," "an understanding that if I do this for you, you'll do something for me later," and the like are all "currencies" in this sense.

In a more tangible sense, soldiers in WWII used unopened packs of cigarettes as currency, even though it had no legal backing whatsoever. In some American cities, street people have used bus tokens and other useful items that could later be exchanged for a needed good or service as currency, again, without legal backing.

I'm not ignoring your last sentence, but until or unless Bitcoin-holders attempt to seek the same status for Bitcoins that non-domestic sovereign-backed currencies have, I don't think there will be a problem. From a legal standpoint, bitcoins are more analogous to limited-edition art prints, where "limited" is a very high finite number and where everyone has the ability to, with some expense on their part, create new prints until the limit is reached. This is only a legal analogy, in practical terms Bitcoins are a lot easier to transfer than a paper art print.

Re:Difference between "currency" and "legal tender (4, Informative)

cffrost (885375) | about a year ago | (#42937317)

"Currency" is anything two or more transacting parties say it is. "Goodwill," "reputation," "an understanding that if I do this for you, you'll do something for me later," and the like are all "currencies" in this sense.

The same goes for Tide laundry detergent, [schneier.com] apparently.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42937049)

The law is very clear about MINTING and PRINTING new currency within the US to be used in the US for sure, But Bitcoins are not printed of minted. You talk about lawyers loving legal definitions and let me assure you, they are the two definitions that matter the most in this case.

States rights (3, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42937143)

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

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936697)

AC might be referring to issues like this: (at least in the US)
http://www.courierpress.com/news/2011/mar/19/local-liberty-dollar-architect-found-guilty/

Ah, I see (4, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42937061)

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.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#42937285)

Bitcoin transactions are unobserved by government, and thus difficult to track to tax. It's like a Swiss bank account for everybody where transactions take place securely hidden from taxing eyes.

Bitcoins are illegal ??? citation needed (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42936839)

Your first 3 words are in the present tense. As far as I know, BitCoins are legal as of the time of your post, at least in the United States, where Google is headquartered. I can't speak for the United Kingdom, where TFA is presumably published (it's a ".uk" domain).

As for the rest, bureaucracy and courts tend to move slowly, and I very much doubt BitCoins will become illegal in the United States in such a short time-frame.

What COULD happen quickly is that the IRS would re-interpret the "1099" requirement that requires individuals to report if they pay more than a few thousand (or hundred?) dollars to an independent contractor in a given year to specifically include Bitcoins (arguably, it already does, under taxable barter rules)

States, perhaps under federal pressure, could also use existing sales tax laws and rarely-enforced "use tax" laws to crack down on the use of Bitcoins for taxable transactions where taxes were not paid, forcing the owner to testify through subpoena where the money came from "as part of a tax investigation." If just one state government does this successfully, there will be a chilling effect on the use of anonymous currency for transactions where media exposure could be embarrassing or worse.

--

For those outside the United States:

Most states in the USA have a sales tax paid by the consumer on the in-store price paid for non-essential goods and, in some states, services. Goods bought by mail-order from an out of state company that doesn't have a "presence" in your state are exempt from sales taxes, on the grounds that my state has no authority to compel an out-of-state business to collect them. However, most states require buyers to send the state a check at the end of the year for a "use tax" for all goods bought out of state and shipped home. This "use tax" is typically the same as the sales tax, minus the amount of sales tax that was paid to another state. So if I live in a state with 8% tax and go on vacation to a state with 5% tax and buy a $500 computer and bring it home, I owe my home state $15. $15 = 8% of $500 for "use tax" minus 5% of $500 that I already paid in sales taxes to another state. If the state I bought is from is one that will give sales tax refunds to vacationers, I can the $25 sales tax back, but if I do, my "use tax" bill goes up from $15 to $40, so I gain nothing except the satisfaction that the $25 is being used by my government, not some out-of-state government.

Use taxes are on the honor system and are almost never enforced because it's literally not cost-effective unless the amount owed is very high and the evidence of tax evasion is solid.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936919)

No one possesses bitcoins, they possess an encrypted hash.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42937033)

Shut up you fucking useless troll.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (2, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | about a year ago | (#42936589)

Thanks to bitcoin, people can exercise their freedom to get rich off other people's hard work!

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (5, Funny)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#42936637)

Don't worry, the RIAA are going to sue them for patent infringement.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (0)

Goaway (82658) | about a year ago | (#42936767)

The RIAA does pay its artists, even if it stingy.

How many of these sites have you seen pay anyone anything?

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42937197)

Mega

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (5, Insightful)

Artraze (600366) | about a year ago | (#42936871)

Once upon a time there was this thing "innocent until proven guilty" which meant that stuff wasn't declared in violation of the law until that violation was argued and confirmed. People had a right to a defense. Think that's going to happen here? Or is this going to be 'shoot first, ask questions never' like the rest of internet enforcement? How many fair use sites will just have their money stolen from them (usually when these sorts of decisions happen, they also take any owed money for the last payment period... usually a month) without any ability to argue their case?

Also, keep in mind that 'illegal' in these sorts of cases very often means more like 'things we don't like' and will intentionally sweep up any not-even-gray zone stuff that they don't want to deal with. Hosting an image board / cloud storage / video share? Except to be black listed the moment some troll posts something illegal no matter how fast the mods pull it down or even if you comply with the DMCA.

(And if you don't believe me, see how funding was cut for WikiLeaks, despite the fact that publishing classified material is not a crime. Publishing certain secrets can be, but was that proven before funding was cut? Nope. As I understand it, despite their best efforts, they still have yet to find anything illegal about WikiLeaks's behavior.)

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (4, Interesting)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42937013)

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.

Visa could choose to not do business with blacks if they choose to?
If you say no, where is the line drawn?

A does not follow B (4, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | about a year ago | (#42936769)

If BitCoin becomes the "currency" of choice for the "underground economy" (a position for which it is well suited... about the only thing it's well-suited for), I don't think it's going to terrify Google or Visa/MC all that much. They don't WANT that business; it causes too many legal/regulatory hassles.

actually even before that (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#42936819)

who/how do you define an "illegal download site"?

Is this "they host the files", or is this torrent sites that host no files? This matters, as one of those is not even illegal.

Re:actually even before that (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42937029)

At that point VISA would have to stop dealing with google. You can easily use it to find torrents.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (5, Insightful)

horza (87255) | about a year ago | (#42936933)

A think a lot of us didn't take Bitcoin seriously until we saw what happened to Wikileaks. The incredible power of VISA to simply cut off global funding to any entity at a keystroke with zero accountability to anybody. Whereas prior the idea of Bitcoin would be seen as "too much effort", a lot of people could now be pushed into giving it a try.

Phillip.

Most of us still do not take it seriously (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42937213)

  1. We already have anonymous, hard-to-control ways to give people money: we can hand them money. That is why the US government requires large cash transactions to be automatically reported. There is no reason the same could not be done with Bitcoin: sure, you might get away with some illegal Bitcoin transactions, but by using Bitcoin you are basically putting a giant neon sign on your forehead that says, "I am trying to avoid mainstream ways of paying for things!"
  2. Bitcoin cannot support secure offline payments. That makes it all the more difficult to hide the fact that you are using Bitcoin, unlike using paper money.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. There is no reason to think that this situation will ever change: people still need to pay their taxes and spend money offline, and Bitcoin does not allow them to do either of those things.
  5. Serious cryptography researchers in the 80s and 90s showed the world how to make digital cash systems that do not suffer from any of the above problems. We should be talking about how to deploy those systems, rather than continuing to go astray with Bitcoin.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42937227)

FWIW, I love Bitcoin. I'm going to make a point of using it to pay for more services online, as a reaction to this move by Google.

FUD Campaign continuing (5, Informative)

openfrog (897716) | about a year ago | (#42936957)

I have mod points, but not finding anyone questioning this source... Have you RTFA? This is The Telegraph! There is no source cited AT ALL. You don't know who said what in which context. Nothing.

Microsoft has hired the CEO of Burton-Marsteller with the official function of spreading FUD on Google.

But frankly, this sounds more like this comes from The Onion... Nobody here questions sources anymore?

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#42936979)

Sucessor? To google? Via bitcoins? I can't come up with a way that works that sounds realistic.

Bitcoin will never see mainstream use (3, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42937085)

Google: so big it should fail.

While Google is working on behalf of the regime, I say we cut Google's funding. Don't use it. There are alternatives for most things Google does, and for the most part, when you use them, Google can't spy on what you're doing. I stopped "Googling" a long time ago. Duck Duck Go is a better search engine, since it isn't just serving you up ads in its quest to hoard BILLIONS of dollars while still using the increasingly euphemistic motto "Don't Be Evil."

Sorry, when you pretend to be a search engine and you're really an ad-server, you're evil. You tried to fight the evil of Microsoft, and their ilk , but you've let the money corrupt you, you've gone over to the dark-side, Google. Now it's time for you to join them in a slow, inexorable slide into irrelevance.

Re:AKA Google drives Bitcoin Into Mainstream use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42937203)

Thanks Google/banks for killing your own model and building the strength of your sucessor.

Huh? I smell someone who relies on illegal downloads for his porn.

Not a Fan (5, Insightful)

jmrieger (2695923) | about a year ago | (#42936515)

If it's left up to one Government to determine what is and is not an illegal site, this is ripe for abuse. Or, what if Google decides that a site (lets say, Mega) is illegal, when in fact it's not?

Re:Not a Fan (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#42936735)

From RTFA it does not look like it is going to be up to just one organization to determine if it is an illegal website.

It's their search engine/payment mech., etc. (2)

sirwired (27582) | about a year ago | (#42936797)

It's their search engine/payment mechanism/bank/whatever. They can decide what it is used for. They ARE the law, when it comes to the services that they themselves run. They don't need to ask a court's permission to verify if something is or isn't illegal.

Re:It's their search engine/payment mech., etc. (2)

Cali Thalen (627449) | about a year ago | (#42937149)

To clarify a little for you...

Google doesn't need a court, government, or anyone else to determine who it can do business with. If it wants to refuse to do (ad) business with download sites, legal or otherwise (or any other kind of site for that matter), it can and should be able to make that call for itself.

While I detest the idea that 'big brother' can tell me what kinds of sites I can run or view, I just as much detest the idea that 'big brother' can come into my business and tell me I don't have any choice on how I run it.

I'm not saying there wouldn't be consequences for those decisions. Let Google do business with or without whoever they feel like...and if they make stupid choices and piss too many people off, the 'next Google' will learn from that and maybe do things differently.

Re:Not a Fan (1)

bwcbwc (601780) | about a year ago | (#42937011)

That's just the tip of the iceberg...Google has its own file sharing services (Google Docs, Google Code). Given the size of Google and the dependency that download sites have on CC payments, this sounds like it goes over the line for anti-trust and anti-competitive conspiracy counter-charges. If I were Visa and MC, I would be very careful about how I approached this, so as not to get roped into a lawsuit.

If they just share information to turn over to the government, they can probably get away with that - after all, AT&T did when they allowed the feds to tap phone lines without a warrant. But if they try to stop payments without government approval, they are on shaky ground (IANAL).

Who decides what's illegal? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936531)

Google? This is why Bitcoin is necessary. We can't continue having commercial entities controlling the money flow.

Re:Who decides what's illegal? (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#42936655)

Seriously why don't we just go back to carrying silver and gold?

Re:Who decides what's illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936761)

This is about online payments. Bitcoin is a transfer protocol. As such it is more similar to credit cards and Paypal than it is to physical money. What good is gold when you can't pay with it?

Re:Who decides what's illegal? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#42936785)

Nothing is really stopping you from conducting your day to day business with precious metals, it will just be a pain in the ass getting most companies to accept them.

Re:Who decides what's illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936843)

Please post videos of yourself buying from Newegg/Amazon with silver or gold. Or food from a restaurant or grocery store.

Should be good for a few laughs.

Re:Who decides what's illegal? (0)

JazzLad (935151) | about a year ago | (#42937001)

Any restaurant or store will let you use gold as currency. You just may not like the exchange rate you are given.

Re:Who decides what's illegal? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#42937057)

There are companies that will sell you gold or silver, hold it for you, and allow you to spend it online.

I haven't looked into them because well, it sounds like a stupid idea to me, but it does exist.

Re:Who decides what's illegal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42937145)

You tell 'em, Burl Ives.

This is a really bad idea (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936541)

Who decides what website is illegal? A website that may be deemed illegal in one country may not be in another.
This was the case with WikiLeaks and how their funding was diminished. The same would be the case with phone unlocking sites fro example.

Re:This is a really bad idea (1)

lapm (750202) | about a year ago | (#42936611)

Decision is made by who ever is in power at given moment.. In this case, Google is trying to be the one that decides it. Problem with this is, that it can be abused as any power. Those with power wish to silence those without power. Especially when there is inconvenient facts involved that people in power wish to hide.

Re:This is a really bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936645)

Who decides what website is illegal? A website that may be deemed illegal in one country may not be in another.
This was the case with WikiLeaks and how their funding was diminished. The same would be the case with phone unlocking sites fro example.

It is illegal when the big compagnies are loosing money....

Re:This is a really bad idea (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about a year ago | (#42936857)

It is illegal when the big compagnies are loosing money....

Companies in which countries?
Consider the fate of AllOfMP3 [wikipedia.org]. The web site [allofmp3.ru] was operating in an ostensibly legal way according to Russian laws and paid royalties through ROMS, but were sued for trillions of dollars by the RIAA and IFPI (who had apparently refused royalties). Eventually, AllOfMP3 ceased operations, but its sister sites such as AllTunes [alltunes.com] are still going strong, and are apparently quite legal in Russia. The RIAA and others would claim that they are illegal in the US and in many other places.

So, what would be the result of payment processing being halted on a site which is operating legally in a large country?

Re:This is a really bad idea (-1, Flamebait)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#42936703)

Wikileaks attacked the United States government. It was a clear case of espionage and that would make any government in the world go after them. The US has strong allies and a long reach. Right or wrong they picked a fight and should have known there would be consequences. Personally I think they were wrong. A lot of people died because of that release of raw information, I don't think any of them truly realized what all was contained in it. Like it or not governments make the laws and if you break them there are consequences.

Re:This is a really bad idea (4, Informative)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#42936787)

Wikileaks "attacked" many governments, still only US government in its drama Queen complex went postal about it, and not because the truth was revealed to "the enemy" but because it was revealed to its own population.

Re: This is a really bad idea (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936859)

A lot of people died because of that release of raw information

[Citation needed]. The US Department of Defense and NATO have both stated that Wikileaks did not release any sensitive information and did not put any lives in danger. And personally I find them far more credible on this issue than some random guy on Slashdot.

http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/10/17/170227/dod-study-contradicts-charges-against-wikileaks

Re:This is a really bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936863)

No one died, that is pure bullshit. Wikileaks did not "attack" the us - they let us citizens know what lies and threats our government employees to enforce imperialism. For example, we know because of wikileaks how the obama administration, particularly clinton, conspired to support the right-wing coup in honduras.

Re:This is a really bad idea (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#42936903)

Wikileaks didn't break any laws as far as I'm aware, and tghere's no evidence of death from that release. Even if there were, the blame lies on the government in it's use of illegal and unneccsary actions. Also, your stance is horribly dangerous. If the actions taken were right, then the law is wrong.

Re:This is a really bad idea (1)

oneeyedman (39461) | about a year ago | (#42936943)

Please substantiate your claim that "A lot of people died because of that release of raw information."

And somebody with moderation please mod this troll down.

Or not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936561)

"the first time that illegal websites have been diminished or driven out of business by having a block put on their source of money."

I guess the author is like me and has forgotten about paypal.

Who is Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936575)

Who does Google think they are to become involved in who can do business online?
They are a search and advertising company, a media company really, I don't want them involved in deciding who can do business.

Who are you to say who they must do business with (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#42937125)

Business is a voluntary act. Google is not a governmental agency which is required to deal with everyone, or even to deal with everyone with an even hand. They don't decide who can be online and do business, and who cannot. Those other sites will still exist and may conduct business as usual, just without a particular business partner.

If you don't like it, don't use them. It will reduce their income. Of course, I presume you're using Google right now, or you wouldn't give a fuck what they do (since, hey, you don't use them anyway).

One word: Bitcoin (1, Interesting)

carlhaagen (1021273) | about a year ago | (#42936599)

This is a very dangerous road Google is heading down on. Let's just see what happens.

Re:One word: Bitcoin (3, Interesting)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about a year ago | (#42936649)

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

Re:One word: Bitcoin (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#42936813)

The more they push for control the more things slip through their fingers. It is a fight they can't win. Yes, they can make bitcoin illegal, but sooner or later it will be replaced for something even harder to shut down.

Re:One word: Bitcoin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936861)

I have Bitcoins. I did not have to pay anyone to get them. Bitcoin is primarily a transfer system, but it isn't just a transfer system.

Re:One word: Bitcoin (1)

Empiric (675968) | about a year ago | (#42937263)

Yes, but something has to be done. Next thing you know, these sites offering easy access to all this content they don't own, will be enhanced to become increasingly convenient--starting with putting in a search box and who knows, perhaps even further profiting from this illicit benefit from others' work by, say, something so egregious as putting their own advertisements on the pages. Probably they could even talk a large cross-section of business into using this "search engine to others' content" (to coin a phrase) as an advertising vehicle, and, soon these sites could become multi-billion dollar enterprises, and we'd probably have the owners buying personal jets solely from reaped profits from merely establishing de-facto association with, and redirection to, massive amounts of content they had no part in providing, or investment in creating.

Google obviously could not allow something like that to occur.

Oh wait.

How about not presenting them in search results? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936617)

I'm amazed at how easy it is to find complete PDFs of popular, current textbooks on line by googling. For example, the following search:

Introduction to algorithms Cormen Rivest PDF [google.com]

gave me two PDFs in the top results on the first page that appear to be illegal, from sites from Czechoslavakia and the Netherlands respectively. Now, it could be that the publisher of that textbook authorized that use, I don't know. But this happens so often that I think Google just takes a blind eye to this kind of thing, even though they have people who should know better. [norvig.com]

Re:How about not presenting them in search results (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about a year ago | (#42936991)

Then Google would get into a tiff about manipulating search results, which they don't want.

In that context, this move makes a convoluted and Machiavellian kind of sense. If the sites are gone, there's nothing to index, and Google can claim their search is fair.

So Google et al haven't heard of laundering? (1)

eksith (2776419) | about a year ago | (#42936623)

I can think of at least three ways to get around this. And if I can, then you can bet people who've dedicated themselves to doing this have found at least fifty.

  1. Useless purchases: You get a download link in the "Thank you" email for purchasing a useless app in the Android store or some other commonly used HTML/JS/Flash widget. If the company owns the product, it will seem like a genuine purchase for something else.
  2. Donations to charity: Some out-of-the-way place has hapless children that need medical care and other services. You can be a generous donation to the cause and BTW, here's your complementary illegal download link to your email.
  3. Hosting that doesn't: "We host web sites for businesses that don't need management, are purely HTML, completely secure and for a limited time. Think of a hosting carousel" and of course the hosting fee matches exactly the price of the download + operating costs

Re:So Google et al haven't heard of laundering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42937325)

You could have saved yourself a lot of words and said 'I can think of one way around this: fraud'.

This is a job for courts! (4, Insightful)

wfstanle (1188751) | about a year ago | (#42936641)

Cutting off funding should not be decided by business, the courts should make that decision. Garnted, the operators of such a website may be scumbags but they still deserve their day in court.

Re:This is a job for courts! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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.

Don't be evil, ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936659)

Be judge jury and executionner and then call yourself good afterwards

Sounds Dredd-ful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936661)

So Google will appoint themselves judge, jury, and executioner, I suppose? Maybe if everybody just put up a Tor relay.....

Re:Sounds Dredd-ful (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#42937041)

...Then we'd all be blocked from half of the Internet. I already had to change the exit node on my home connection to a bridge node because I couldn't get shit done anymore.

Why not stop accepting Ad revenue? (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#42936669)

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.

Re:Why not stop accepting Ad revenue? (4, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#42937147)

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.

Because they can.

This is economic power, libertarians. It's a real thing. If you were running a search-dependent company Google was targeting, would you survive until a popular Google competitor arises? And they're not doing this under direct legal threat, they could just as easily cut companies off for business or even personal reasons.

Is it illegal to download a movie? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936681)

Serious question actually, bit of google fu requires some more google fu. That being said, that the irony of searching for said answer brings up a bunch of sites where you can download movies does not escape me.

N.

Re:Is it illegal to download a movie? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#42936949)

Depending on your jurisdiction, merely knowingly possessing infringing copies of copyrighted works can be against the law too... much like knowingly possessing stolen merchandise, or counterfeit currency. Of course, the out on the matter of either of the latter is that, depending where you got it from, you may be able to plausibly present a case that you never knew its status... It's a bit trickier arguing that you don't know the status of works which you find on a site called "pirate bay", or any of a number of other sites that make no particular attempt to portray themselves as authorized sources for the content. Probably not impossible mind you, but almost certainly quite a bit trickier. In either case, the very least that would happen in such jurisdictions is that infringing copies would be destroyed, at the possessor's expense. How plausible any argument you might present that you didn't know its actual status would probably specify whether or not there would be criminal penalties applicable. At any rate, I'd imagine there's be a pretty good chance you wouldn't be able to use the same excuse again.

Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936689)

Usually I hate anything that has to do with crime. But I do not want private companies being allowed to pass this kind of judgement. An example are the various credit bureaus. They are private businesses and their credit reports are often seriously defective. They have gained influence and are bullet proof as far as being sued for falsely reporting incorrectly. This is made worse as they have no incentive to ever correct a bad report.
                        So what hell will people have to go through if Google gets it wrong and gets payment shut down to an innocent party. Did a company do wrong or did an employee within a company covertly do the wrong? The point being that it is important that an official, legal, system, be the ones who take these sorts of actions and authorities. How serious can it get? Some people have been evicted from their own homes for not paying their mortgages when they never, ever, had a mortgage in the first place. those who accuse and judge must have some burden to be very accurate in their judgements.

Sounds like the Judge Dredd method (5, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | about a year ago | (#42936713)

From TFA:

the plans, still in discussion, would also block funding to websites that do not respond to legal challenges, for example because they are offshore.

So, if the "legal challenges" have a basis in fact, why not use existing laws? Sounds like a mechanism to make American laws apply to everyone in the world. And they don't even have to prove guilt, just send a threat from a lawyer, which is rightfully ignored, then Google pulls the plug on the site's income, site erased.

Make piracy non-profit again (5, Interesting)

concealment (2447304) | about a year ago | (#42936727)

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.

Stupid move (4, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#42936747)

Giving in to RIAA thugs won't make them demand any less, but will instead make them see themselves entitled to that and more. Google shouldn't be rubbing their back, they should be bloodying their noses.

Do you REALLY want idiots telling you how to spend (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936779)

YOUR money ?

If yes, continue to do business with the companies which have
ambitions which involve prohibiting you from spending money
in ways they don't approve.

If no, do business elsewhere.

Bye, bye Youtube... (3, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#42936849)

So I take it that Youtube will be cut off then?

Re:Bye, bye Youtube... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936987)

I think Youtube has been cleaning up its act over the past few years or so, as far as copyright infringement is concerned. Usually, when I google for a hit recording there it's got an ad in front that probably indicates that a deal was cut with the publisher.

Good idea, wrong target (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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.

Simply Outrageous (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42936879)

Only judges should have this power. They did it with Wikileaks, found out it worked pretty well, and that the general population didn't care much. So why not doing it again? "Let's do evil" ...

Business choice (1)

Blaisun (2763413) | about a year ago | (#42936905)

I believe that Google should be able to do business with whomever they choose, if the feel that a websites activities are not up to the standards the Google wants to associate with, they have the ability to not do business with them. Its as simple as not allowing them to use the Google advertising to earn revenue on their site. desisting them from the Google search, or demoting them could be seen as anti-competitive though.

Is Google's plan legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42937119)

It sounds like vigilantism, which I guess I've always assumed was illegal. Google, and whoever they partner with would be making decisions on guilt or innocence and imposing sentencing. I can't believe that the government would allow that. There has to be some violations of law in a plan like that! No?

RN

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