The Battle With Online Counterfeiting

April 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

The discussion over whether or not search engines should be responsible for promoting websites that sell counterfeit products remains a heated debate.  A recent article in PC World summarizes a hearing last week about digital piracy. To date, Google has shut down about 50,000 accounts for attempting to use their Google Adword program to promote counterfeit goods. The hosting site Go Daddy has been shutting down all sites that have any sort of infringing content.

Kent Walker, senior vice president and general counsel at Google spoke about their fight against fakes:

“Google does bury the search results of sites that sell pirated or counterfeit products after complaints from copyright holders…But it’s difficult to filter Web searches ahead of time because searches for legal sites are often similar to searches for piracy or counterfeit sites, and Google doesn’t want to be in the position of deciding what sites should be excluded from search results.”

Nonetheless, Google is certainly taking the necessary precautions to protect the public from ads for counterfeit goods (see our recent blog post), but the question still remains if search engines should be held liable. Walker stated that lawmakers should focus on the advertising and financial transactions that pay for the websites selling counterfeits instead of focusing on search results.

In order to control the online counterfeit industry, companies and government agencies should work together. Google should do what they can to delete infringing accounts and hide search results for counterfeit sites. Brands should monitor the internet and work with prosecutors in shutting down websites selling counterfeits of their products. Hosting sites should shut down any sites that are infringing. Lastly, prosecutors and lawmakers should work with all parties in order to hinder counterfeiting online. Battling online counterfeits should be a global group effort in order to prevent criminals from selling fakes.

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