Music Stars Slam Piracy Law for Letting Google Rip Them Off

Katy Perry, Maroon 5 and a swath of music industry figures say the law has turned into a “business plan for profiting off of stolen content”

Katy Perry performs live
Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Hundreds of music industry figures, including megastars like Katy Perry and Maroon 5 and high-profile manager Irving Azoff, have lashed out at Google for profiting off piracy because of a “dysfunctional” law.

Search giant Google “can develop programs to play and beat a master of the complex game Go” but won’t create a way to fix its indexing of repeat infringers that pop back up almost as quickly as they’re taken down, music trade organizations said in a filing.

A letter signed by creators including Bette Midler and Elvis Costello alluded to Google’s massive video site YouTube as having “swallowed up almost every other form of listening, while paying among the lowest royalties in the business.”

“Many big tech companies have figured out how to game this law — hiding behind its sweeping immunities while earning billions off of our work,” the letter sent Thursday read.

The system has, at worst, become “a business plan for profiting off of stolen content,” the trade groups continued.

Google declined to comment on the matter.

The Internet Association, a trade group that has Google as one of its members, this week published a blog post that said the law is “working effectively and as intended today.”

The filings to the U.S. Copyright Office were submitted as part of a public comment period on what’s known as the “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a 1998 law. The Copyright Office is expected to weigh the submissions and make a report to Congress. That report won’t have any legislative teeth but may make recommendations to lawmakers.

That act created a notice-and-takedown system, in which copyright owners flag infringement to online companies to deal with piracy.