Visibility of Infringing Content on the Internet

In our post about Illegal eCommerce Websites, we saw how visibility is crucial to the operation of certain infringing eBook sites. Online ads, search results, backlinks and page rank all play a role in driving traffic. While limiting visibility to illegal sites by effective enforcement is not a total solution, it is a necessary component to any online protection program.

We tend to divide up the content-consuming Internet public into three broad buckets:

  • Those looking to acquire content legally
  • Those looking to acquire content wherever they can find it
  • Those looking to acquire content for free, no matter what

At the end of the day, the issue of visibility really only goes to the first two. Content consumers in the third bucket typically already know where to get their content for free. In any event, it is important to note that consumers in the third bucket are not customers. They will not spend money on your content.

And this raises an important point: consumers in the first two buckets will spend money on your content. This means that each sale of infringing content to one of them corresponds more or less directly to a lost sale of legitimate content.

So, the issue of the visibility of infringing content really boils down to this: We don’t want people who are looking to acquire content by purchasing it to be exposed to illegal sites in the first place. Period. Taking down infringing search results at search engines and disabling advertisements for infringing product across the various ad networks is a crucial component to any enforcement program.

Thinking of this component of an enforcement program in this context helps understand why search engine and ad network monitoring and takedown are so important.