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Patents Piracy Entertainment

Disney Patents a Piracy Free Search Engine 164

wabrandsma writes with this excerpt from Torrentfreak: Disney has just obtained a patent for a search engine that ranks sites based on various "authenticity" factors. One of the goals of the technology is to filter pirated material from search results while boosting the profile of copyright and trademark holders' websites. A new patent awarded to Disney Enterprises this week describes a search engine through which pirated content is hard to find. Titled "Online content ranking system based on authenticity metric values for web elements," one of the patent's main goals is to prevent pirated movies and other illicit content from ranking well in the search results. According to Disney their patent makes it possible to "enable the filtering of undesirable search results, such as results referencing piracy websites." Disney believes that current search engines are using the wrong approach as they rely on a website's "popularity." This allows site owners to game the system in order to rank higher. "For example, a manipulated page for unauthorized sales of drugs, movies, etc. might be able to obtain a high popularity rating, but what the typical user will want to see is a more authentic page," they explain. Probably not a good place to look for a grey-market copy of Song of the South.
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Disney Patents a Piracy Free Search Engine

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 02, 2014 @06:10PM (#48296317)

    Isn't a search engine just applying a ranking algorithm to content? Didn't think algorithms could be patented.

    • This is great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Sunday November 02, 2014 @07:56PM (#48297003)
      I don't want to question too much the validity of this patent. I'm just glad that a corrupt organization like Disney got the patent. That way other search engines will think twice and not risk implementing any sort of "authenticity" factors" in their searches. So Disney can go ahead and have searches that favor Disney in their own search engine, but will have to avoid doing that. Great move Disney. What other things that would have favored you are you going to patent so that others can't do?
    • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Sunday November 02, 2014 @09:16PM (#48297561)

      Isn't a search engine just applying a ranking algorithm to content? Didn't think algorithms could be patented.

      Regardless of whether it's patentable... does anybody really need a search engine that only returns sites "certified" by Disney? Really?

      I trust Disney to certify sites about as much as I would trust government to do it. Which is to say: about zero.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        I can see a lot of demand for it, actually. Think of it like Disney TV channels. Content certified as OK for young children. At most a bit of mild peril, or a particularly bad Disney song.

        Disney must be the most popular babysitter in the world. Now they offer a "safe" (read: mind rotting) internet experience too.

  • Actually no... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 02, 2014 @06:17PM (#48296359)

    "...enable the filtering of undesirable search results" - Undesirable for whom?

    "...but what the typical user will want to see is a more authentic page" - That's an interesting assertion, but I don't think that's actually true.

    "...rely on a website's "popularity."" - Popular represents what people want, not these bogus 'authentic' (read 'expensive, DRM infested frustrations') metrics.

    This basically boils down to "unless we sell it there's no way to get it". An interesting idea, but fail.

    • Yep. And fan pages, or personal pages that might come up will be totally buried because they won't have corporate legitimacy under this search engine.
    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      It would be a great source, if they let you sort based on cost. "Oh, the cheapest way to view "The Avengers" is $7.99 for a "rental"? I'll just steal it for $0. Cheaper, easier, and faster."

      When they try to compete with "free", then they'll have figured it out. Maybe they should be a filter on "DRM" to filter out DRM from search results.
    • And how exactly will it tell the original author vs a megacorp that stolen the artwork (basically the only case of copyright theft as it deprives the author of his work rather than just potential revenue)?

      Something tells me it will declare the latter as "authentic"...

    • What it boils down to is censorship, plain and simple, and possibly a lawsuit against them as it's leveraged to drop competitors' search results.
  • Yeah baby! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Sunday November 02, 2014 @06:17PM (#48296365)

    It will be bigger than Bing! At last a search engine that can take on Google.

  • Between the normal search results and this, and whatever the difference is, is the interesting sites.

    Thanks, Disney!

  • by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Sunday November 02, 2014 @06:19PM (#48296379)
    1) Why a sort of software filtering of search results depending on some criteria are a patent in any way shape or form ? Probably only valid in the US anyway.

    2) how do they suppose this should work if other search engine do not use that filtering.
    • Search engines that do not filter will be ruled drm circumvention devices. Just like when Windows and Apple finally get DRM nailed down and Linux doesn't implement it. Circumvention devices.

    • Also, why would Disney want to limit who got to use their algorithm? Sorry, I would prevent people from finding pirated movies, but there's a patent on that...

  • ... they *don't* want other search engines to use this?

    Or are they planning to somehow force search engines to license the process?

    • by NiteMair ( 309303 ) on Sunday November 02, 2014 @06:27PM (#48296431)

      Probably the latter.

      I'm guessing the next step in their evil plan is to convince congress to pass some law making such mechanisms mandatory in the U.S. - at which point they will license the tech and profit.

      Face it, Disney loves to lobby congress, they have done so successfully for many decades.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 02, 2014 @07:14PM (#48296757)

        I just love how bribery is called "lobbying" in the US.

        • I just love how bribery is called "lobbying" in the US.

          As an American, I don't. Like it that is.

        • It isn't. Lobbying is talking. Bribing is paying or giving stuff. Lobbyists that are caught paying or giving stuff go to jail for... bribery. Which means the same thing here as other places.

          • It isn't. Lobbying is talking. Bribing is paying or giving stuff. Lobbyists that are caught paying or giving stuff go to jail for... bribery. Which means the same thing here as other places.

            That's just adorable! Do you believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy too?

          • If I contribute millions of dollars in campaign funds, which is now unlimited by the way, the politician is not likely going to bite the hand that feeds. Better yet, they will try to implement the laws *I* want, in order to get more of that sweet, sweet cash. While not explicitly bribery, it pretty much is.
            • Speculation and hand-waving.

              I have great politicians in my State, you're just voting for the wrong people.

              Go give Senator Wyden a big campaign donation, and see if his policies change. Hint: they don't, and he votes the way he says he will.

              Choosing sucky politicians who vote for whatever the rich people want is just poor electoral practice, it isn't bribery. Yes, most pols support the rich going in, that is what they promise to do: be "business friendly." And then they support policies that are "business fr

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )
        They don't need an act of congress; they just need to chip away at the DMCA safe harbor through legal challenges that existing search engines are complicit with infringement due to not using industry-standard algorithms as a policy of deterring infringement, such as Disney's patented algorithm.
    • by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Sunday November 02, 2014 @06:27PM (#48296437)

      That was my thought as well. This is the perfect excuse for Google to shrug and say, "Welp, we can't do that ourselves now and we don't want to pay the license. Sorry fellas, ThePirateBay hits the #1 spot for 'disney movie' searches."

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      My guess was they accuse Google of promoting piracy by not downranking pirated content and get them to agree to license the patent as a payoff, not caring if they actually implement it.

      There's always the backdoor idea that if Google someow did tweak pagerank to downrank pirated content they accuse Google of patent violation..

    • No, they patented it so that when some other search engine has to go to court to get it tossed, they'll get 7 or 8 figures of free PR, telling the whole world they're the company fighting the evil baddy-bads.

    • by hondo77 ( 324058 )
      Not force other search engines to license it but allow them to license it, likely for free. By patenting it themselves, Disney can give it away to all search engines and make sure no one search engine has a monopoly on this anti-piracy technology. If you squint really hard, you can see a resemblance to the GPL there...if I'm right.
  • The search engines people actually want to use will still be free, right?

  • Authenticity? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shillo ( 64681 ) on Sunday November 02, 2014 @06:24PM (#48296409)

    I'm sure this "invention" will correctly attribute Snow White to Brothers Grimm and not Disney. Right?

  • Can't imagine this ever taking off.

    boosting the profile of copyright and trademark holders' websites.

    Which means reviews, fan pages and everything else that's actually interesting about something will be pushed down in favor of the 200 landing pages the copyright owner scattered all over the 'net.

    Of course, it also means the new Disney movie, successor to Cars! and Planes! will be smash hit and absolutely everyone in the world has heard about it. I'm talking about Cats!, of course.

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      I'm talking about Cats!, of course.

      And I forgot to mention that three weeks later, half the world will stop using the Internet because they can't find the cat videos they're here for anymore.

      • by faffod ( 905810 )

        The knowledge of a low UID... clearly you have wisdom and insights on how the internet actually works that transcends any RFC. *I bow to your wisdom*

  • ...Disney believes that current search engines are using the wrong approach as they rely on a website's "popularity."...

    ... but what the typical user will want to see is a more authentic page...

    • by v1 ( 525388 )

      OR I dunno, they could work on being MORE POPULAR with people looking for their product, instead of trying to force/control their customers?

      nah, that'd never work. not that we'll ever try it.

  • I suspect some numpty within Disney has just walked away with a somewhat cheap-looking 'patent plaque'

    The point of a search engine, to the user, is to give them what they were looking for.
    Anything that detracts from this ideal, makes it a 'bad search engine'

    If they'd got their head screwed on, in addition to hiding copyright infringing material, they'd have also extended the patent to remove anything that was sold by a Disney competitor (surely users contributing to the coffers of a rival, is much wors
  • by cjpa ( 796302 )

    Good thing they patented it. Now nobody else will try to implement it.

    • Good thing they patented it. Now nobody else will try to implement it.

      Google's PageRank already implements some version of this, at the request of the **AA.

      Basically, when Google receives a DMCA takedown for a site in its index (which it honors, even though it doesn't have to because it isn't hosting the content), that site gets down-ranked for at least some searches.

      So, Disney—a member of the MPAA—now has a patent that gives Google a reason to stop doing what the MPAA asked it to do.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday November 02, 2014 @06:28PM (#48296451) Journal
    Disney chose a non-piracy-themed 'authenticity' metric because they are Disney; but how did they manage to sneak any variation of "Yeah, a search engine; but weighted on Metric X, as well as popularity!" past the patent office?

    In the arms race between search engines and SEO abhumans, naive popularity became obsolete almost immediately, and made assorted additional weights, filters, and heuristics both necessary and obvious(at a general level, specific ones or specific implementations of one may well be nontrivial or even brilliant; but the fact that naive popularity is now the road to linkfarm hell is news to no one.)

    Weighting for copy-cop-correctness is somewhat novel, since the customer demand isn't obvious; but I'm still not seeing how you can scrape an entire patent out of that(especially when the guys in the Patent and Trademark office have probably heard of the "Let's have a big list of registered trademarks for the sake of authenticity in commerce" concept once or twice before...)
  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Sunday November 02, 2014 @06:31PM (#48296473)

    Yahoo has a search engine, and so does Bing and some others.

    People use Google.

  • Who cares about a search engine that no one will use? People won't use a search engine that doesn't return the results the people are searching for.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Use this as a plugin to a real search engine to identify and strip out the sites that they are promoting as "legit" :-)

  • It should be pretty easy for the search engines people actually use to prove they're not infringing on Disney's patent.

  • Yeah, big corporation with pre-programmed family values (how they perceive the world), that's the future of the old Internet.

    Will the sheeple comply, I kind of wonder. We let them BF us with NSA, FBI, SAPO, InterPol etc...on the basis of a "safer world", safer from WHO? Us? The users?
  • shot in own foot (Score:5, Informative)

    by belmolis ( 702863 ) <billposer@alum.PARISmit.edu minus city> on Sunday November 02, 2014 @06:56PM (#48296627) Homepage
    I think that Disney may have shot themselves in the foot. A patent must by definition describe the method in sufficient detail that a person of ordinary expertise in the field can figure out how to implement it by reading the patent. Since the patent merel describes a ranking algorithm, it can be trivially inverted to select sites likely to contain pirated material.
    • astalavista.box.sk might be interested in that algorithm.

      Ah, memories. The AstaLaVista search engine was such an important tool back in the day.
      Hard to believe it was created 20 years ago.
      I feel old.

  • Wow, that's funny! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday November 02, 2014 @07:05PM (#48296687) Homepage Journal

    They design a search engine that implements their wet dream for them and then because they are what they are, they make sure nobody will use it by slapping a patent on it! They are their own worst enemy!

  • Will it be able to search on filetype:torrent, because if it does, I do not care how high or low it ranks the things I am looking for.

  • by JazzXP ( 770338 ) on Sunday November 02, 2014 @07:13PM (#48296737) Homepage
    Doesn't this mean that search engines can freely show pirate content (including Disney content) for people to find now and not lose any safe harbour provisions? Otherwise they'd be infringing patents...
    • I wondered the same thing. If anybody else tries to prioritize by "authenticity" they could be violating another's IP, so they can claim that one of the content owners was basically forcing them to rank pirated content or pay them royalties for not ranking it. The law usually does not look favorably on such squeeze plays.

  • by ameline ( 771895 ) <ian.ameline@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday November 02, 2014 @07:14PM (#48296741) Homepage Journal

    They filed over 4 years ago. If they haven't got a working search engine by now based on this, they never will. 4 years is forever in internet time.

    Never mind that any search engine using this is very unlikely to make a dent in google.

    I think their strategy is to "shame" google et al into doing more -- "look, see we got a patent on a means of eliminating piracy, proving that it *IS* possible, therefore you have to do more to prevent piracy."
    Ignoring the fact that the existence of a patent proves nothing about whether the invention actually *works*. (I say this as someone who holds a number of patents -- all of mine work -- I filed them after I had them coded and working. But it would have been just as easy to make all of it up and code nothing.)

    • If they haven't got a working search engine by now based on this, they never will. 4 years is forever in internet time.

      They got it working in the first 6 months. It took the remaining 3.5 years to figure out how to stop the sites for Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan, Treasure Island etc. getting banned by all the piracy filters.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Sunday November 02, 2014 @07:15PM (#48296765)
    Even if their search engine was slightly better than Google's it will go nowhere. But making it worse for many people isn't going to endear them to anyone. But most importantly they aren't going to endear themselves with the techno savvy crowd who would typically evangelize a new search engine. So my guess is that we will see a handful of Disney shows do horribly shoehorned in product placements for this turd and then it will be quietly shut down.
    • You got it, but large media companies would censor YouTube videos too.

      You would do a search for a Disney product, film or character and it would come back with maybe 15 results grand total.

      Because they wouldn't show YouTube results or fan pages because those could be copyright violations.

      Most megacorps --- if they had their way --- would actually destroy their own product and attack their own consumers and fans.
      • Not just copyright violations but even ones where they lost due to fair use such as parody. I suspect that if you had a website, "Disney is destroying the fabric of America" that it wouldn't show up. But that if you had a web site, "Disney is the best place on earth to take your kids." that it would somehow show up during searches for "Soil types of Indonesia."

        And yes, the big media companies thought they were on to something when they bought out all the newspapers, radio stations, and television networks
  • The real invention that should have been patented here is the trick to force users into using a search engine that returns "unpopular" pages. Or in other words, the invention that push users toward non pirated content.
  • A lot of the time I'm looking for reviews of a TV show and all I get is links to pirate versions. I already pirated it! I don't need them! Switching to an alternative.

    Sadly they're doing it wrong. I really don't want to find the official web page for the show. That contains no useful information. I want to know what people think.
  • The flagship of a future dystopian society. Promoting a new digital feudalism for your descendants.
  • In other words, people who pay disney to authenticate their site with Disney or a Disney related service and approval.

    I bet 'As people have to agree to our terms of use for Disney paid advertisements, which has billing information, we authenticate their websites so it shows up with a higher ranking'

    E.G The search engine is an ad searching machine now.

  • Thank you for squashing innovation in the field of search engines censored by copyright!

  • by StripedCow ( 776465 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @09:36AM (#48300303)

    So basically, it's a search engine for searching paywalls.

    This makes it easy to filter out paywalls from your search results.
    1. run search on google
    2. run search on disney
    3. subtract results from (1) by (2)
    4. profit

  • It's almost like the system was BUILT TO BE GAMED.

    What kind of effort do you think it will take to get Disney to certify my content as authentic?

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