google-sign-post-piracyToday’s Variety features an article by Todd Spangler with the headline, “House of Cards’ Searches on Google Turn Up Pirate Links as Top Results.”  Color me not surprised in the least. Perhaps folks are noticing because House of Cards is a popular Netflix original series that just launched its second season but the fact that pirate top the list in Google search results is nothing new–just ask musicians and filmmakers.  According to Spangler:

In a Google search for “Watch House of Cards” on Wednesday, the top two results were links to apparent pirate sites, and; Netflix showed up third. WebProNews reported on the Google search results for “HoC” earlier, and found similar results for searches on other Netflix content including “Orange Is the New Black,” “Arrested Development,” “Lilyhammer” and “Derek.”

In December of 2012 I wrote a blog post “Google Search #FAIL Means More $$$ for Them” in which examined this same phenomenon with a search of a newly released indie film.

Not to beat a dead horse, but surprise, surprise….I did a Google search this morning to see how easy it would be to find download links for “Kyss Mig,” a recently released  Swedish indie film.  I used Google to search for “download kyss mig” from this past month, and….oops, so much for Google’s new search algorithm that’s supposed to penalize (reported) pirate sites.  Why am I not surprised that The Pirate Bay result tops the list?

Here’s a screen shot of my results.  It’s not surprising that the Netflix series is suffering the same fate that other content creators have long endured.



I went on to point out the interconnections between these illicit search results and the money trail.  After all, as the Digital Citizens Alliance’s newly released report on piracy profit proves, it’s all about the money.

Not only did I find the full film streaming (for free) online (I checked and actually viewed the first ten minutes) but right beside was a Netflix advertisement.  When I checked the source of the ad I found it led me back to “” a Google-owned company.  Perhaps this is how Google expects users to find legit copies of the film?  After all, Kyss Mig does stream on Netflix….kind of a roundabout way to find the film when I can watch it right here, right now for free!  Of course Google makes money from the ad either way (as does the pirate website) so what do they care?  Hmmm, perhaps the Google ad placement has something to do with why this pirate site is comes up first in search results?  Not to don my tin foil hat but….

A full (free) stream of the indie film “Kyss Mig” was easy to find thanks to Google search results–result that generated ad revenue for Google and website operators. BTW, movie is now offline since I reported it to the distributor.  I guess I’m going to have to be a good girl and use the search terms “buy Kiss Mig.”  Only then am I given results that lead me to legit options.

BTW, I notified the distributor that the film was available via this pirate site so as of Monday, December 10th, this illegal stream is history.  Too bad I can’t say the same for the website itself.

So, while today’s story about “House of Cards” search results leading to pirate websites may be a surprise to some, unfortunately for most of us,  it’s old news.  After all, if you’re looking for a sign post to find pirated content online, Google makes it easy.