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It may seem strange to think that Big Tech companies such as Google, the Meta group networks (Facebook and X – formerly Twitter), Amazon, Apple and Microsoft could profit from piracy or other illegal activities. And, indeed, they don’t usually benefit from it directly. In fact, most of these companies claim to have extremely strict policies against piracy and illegal exploitation of their products or services. They pay dedicated IT security teams to protect their platforms and their users’ data, and all have published policies that seem very clear about their opposition to piracy.

So, why did we choose this theme for our November articles? As is often the case in the world of piracy, things are not as black and white than they may appear. Indeed, there are two major issues for these big companies: freedom of expression, and revenue.

How some piracy practices benefit Big Tech companies

Financially, these companies can indirectly benefit from activities associated with piracy or cybercrime:

  • Advertising: piracy websites or illegal platforms can display advertisements generating revenue for these companies.
  • Cloud services: as we saw in our October theme, these platforms are often the site of illegal activities, and Big Tech companies often offer cloud services. Despite strict policies against the use of their services for illegal purposes, practice shows that this is not always the case.
  • Defending the free internet: it can sometimes be difficult to remove large amounts of content from the web without disproportionately hindering freedom of expression. Companies like X or Facebook often say they don’t want to monitor certain content too closely, because sometimes the line between piracy and freedom of expression can be hard to draw; some content therefore remains online for a long time despite requests from rights holders for this reason.

At PDN, we work on a daily basis with these Big Tech players, and we have cross-referenced our experience with the measures taken by companies to determine which are the “good students” and which should improve their practices with regard to rights holders.

Top performers in the fight against piracy


Google is the obvious starting point for the average user when looking for a link  about any content; pirated and illegal links are no exception. Google also owns the Chrome browser, as well as the YouTube video platform.

To strengthen its cooperation with rights holders and their representatives, the company has created the Trusted Copyright Removal Program. At PDN be have the honor of being part of it. This program establishes partnerships with a hundred or so trusted companies specialized in the fight against piracy, improving the speed and efficiency when removing copyright-infringing links.

In the autumn of 2023 Google claims to have processed over seven billion copyright-related takedown requests. Our experience at PDN shows that this is indeed the case; the majority of the links we report are removed without any difficulty.

In addition, Google uses sophisticated algorithms to detect and filter search results that point to illegal websites or content. These algorithms are continually improved to minimize the visibility of such results.

Google also supports preemptive takedowns, meaning that it blocks flagged URLs before they are indexed by the search engine. This allows rights holders to report content before Google has even considered it, and therefore before it is available in the search engine. Links are therefore sometimes removed before they have even been seen by a single user. Google claims that almost 40% of all link removals in 2022 fell into this category.

This  is particularly common on IPTV services: during the most popular live events, such as the Super Bowl, UFC events or World Cup soccer matches, pirates often set up websites in advance to announce their future unauthorized broadcasts. Copyright holders can now take these offline before the broadcast begins.

Google claims that after removing links to illegal content, even when the content itself remains online, traffic to the site concerned drops by 89%. Removing links in the search engine is therefore a very effective policy, even when an illegal site refuses to respond to requests from the rightful owner.

Google has stated that it is committed to investing in new tools and processes to combat the ever-evolving problem of piracy. Recently, Google seems to have gone a step further by using takedown requests to “moderate” collections of links privately saved by users, which is problematic in terms of user privacy. Google also has the difficult responsibility of trying to balance the fight against illegal content with respect for freedom of expression and access to information.

Generally speaking, however, Google is one of the Big Tech companies that cooperates best with copyright owners.


Although the company is much smaller than Google, the efforts of Plex are also worth noting. Plex is multimedia content management software that enables users to organize and distribute their audio, video and other media files across different devices. Plex is therefore a perfectly legitimate tool, but it is also widely known to pirates; indeed, it is used to share protected media, or host private servers enabling access to illegal content, or even to create IPTV channels.

In September, however, Plex sent emails to numerous Internet users whose IP addresses indicated that they were using Plex servers associated with illegal content, informing them that access to these servers would soon be blocked. The reason? Violation of their terms and conditions. Although piracy was not directly mentioned, the targeted servers all seemed to fall into this category.

In our next article, we’ll take a look at some of the companies whose attitude is more passive, or even ambiguous, particularly those belonging to the Meta platform; in the meantime, if you have a film, series, software or e-book to protect, don’t hesitate to call on our services by contacting one of our account managers; PDN has been a pioneer in cybersecurity and anti-piracy for over ten years, and we’re bound to have a solution to help you. Happy reading and see you soon!

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