Google reportedly helped film pirates
Major studios charge Google suggested keywords such as 'bootleg movie download,' and 'pirated.' Search engine execs pledge reform.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Internet search leader Google is facing criticism from major media companies for reportedly working closely to help two Web sites accused of film pirating.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Brandon Drury and Luke Sample, who are accused of promoting film piracy in a suit brought by major film studios, got significant support from Google between 2003 and 2005.
The two men had Web sites - EasyDownloadCenter.com and TheDownloadPlace.com - which the paper said enabled users to search for movies on the Internet and then download them onto their hard drives.
The Journal reports that Google, attracted by the heavy traffic the sites were generating, assigned account representatives who suggested keywords they could bid on, including "bootleg movie download," "pirated," and "download harry potter movie."
Google (Charts) also offered Drury and Sample credit so they didn't have to use their credit cards to pay Google's fees, according to the report, although it isn't clear if the offer was accepted. And Google was paid $809,000 for ads placed by the two sites over the three-year period, according to the report.
Google has been trying to reach agreement with the major television and movie studios for the proper use of copyrighted material on its sites, especially its YouTube video site that Google recently purchased for $1.65 billion. So Google has been trying to placate the studios even though it is not a defendant in the pirating case involving Drury and Sample.
The Journal reports that on Friday, Google had an afternoon conference call with studio representatives, during which lawyers for Google said the company would remove certain ads the companies objected to, create a list of approved advertisers and refrain from selling keywords used by rogue sites to lure users to pirated material.
In addition, the Google lawyers said the company would introduce internal guidelines on monitoring keywords and train its ad sales force about how to avoid selling such ads.
Among the media companies that had complained about Google's support for pirates, according to the Journal, were News Corp. (Charts), Viacom (Charts), Sony, Time Warner (Charts), Walt Disney (Charts) and NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric (Charts). CNNMoney.com is owned by Time Warner.