Google is in discussions with payment companies including Visa, Mastercard and PayPal to put illegal download websites out of existence by cutting off their funding.
The web search giant, which is embroiled in a long-running row over the way it deals with pirated material, is considering the radical measure so that it can get rid of the root cause instead of having to change its own search results.
Executives want to stop websites more or less dedicated to offering links to pirated films, music and books from making money out of the illegal material. The plans, still in discussion, would also block funding to websites that do not respond to legal challenges, for example because they are offshore.
If Google goes ahead with the radical move, it would not mark the first time that illegal websites have been diminished or driven out of business by having a block put on their source of cash.
In 2011, Visa, Mastercard and PayPal, cut off all donations to WikiLeaks, the controversial website headed by Julian Assange, which blew the lid on a string of government secrets by publishing classified information online.
The idea of shutting off finance to more websites is already popular with many in the book publishing, music, film and television industries, who want to see tougher measures to control piracy.
However, this is the first time Google has begun to embrace the idea so readily.
The Californian company is wary that the radical plan may have unintended consequences, for instance companies using it to stamp out the competition, but it is thrashing out details and could put it into action in the spring.
A Mastercard spokesman said: “Mastercard takes online safety and security seriously. We work closely with our partners to ensure the best possible experience when using electronic payments.” Visa gave no comment. Pay-Pal did not return a request for comment.
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