Google takes small step against online piracy

Google takes small step against online piracy

Summary: Google is changing its search-engine algorithms to push down the search rankings of websites that receive large numbers of copyright-infringement notices.

TOPICS: Google, Piracy

Google will start demoting the rankings of websites that receive high volumes of "legitimate" copyright-infringement notices.

The company frequently receives notices from content owners regarding websites that they say unlawfully contain copyrighted material. Google even has a web page dedicated to showing how many requests it receives from copyright holders and reporting organisations to remove certain websites from its search engine due to piracy.

"In fact, we're now receiving and processing more copyright-removal notices every day than we did in 2009 — more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone," Google's senior vice president of engineering Amit Singhal said in a blog post. "We will be using this data as a signal in our search rankings."

Thanks to a change in Google's search algorithms, certain websites will now appear lower in search results based on the number of copyright-removal notices that Google receives against them.

The company said it will not remove websites from its search results unless it receives "a valid copyright-removal notice from the rights owner".

Between July and December 2011, Google removed 97 per cent of search results specified in those copyright-removal notices.

Google has made it clear that it is not deciding whether websites have indeed infringed copyright, as that is something that should be left up to the courts. It has counter-notice tools in place for website owners who want to appeal a take-down decision.

Earlier this year, Google was one of the many tech companies that rallied against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US. SOPA would have given US law-enforcement agencies added power to combat online content piracy, but opponents said it would hamper internet freedom.

Topics: Google, Piracy

Spandas Lui

About Spandas Lui

Spandas forayed into tech journalism in 2009 as a fresh university graduate spurring her passion for all things tech. Based in Australia, Spandas covers enterprise and business IT.

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  • Does That Mean YouTube, Too?

    Google says that they're cracking down on sites that get copyright infringement penalties. If that the case, we should see those YouTube rankings drop overnight. But I doubt we'll see that.
    Gee Cee
    • Re: Does That Mean YouTube, Too?

      Yes, someone else has looked into that question, and the answer appears to be, apparently not. Google already has a completely separate procedure for submitting DMCA takedowns on YouTube, and their main online form for general Google takedowns makes it quite clear you should not be using it for YouTube takedowns.

      So it looks like other video sites will be subject to this new penalization in rankings, but not YouTube.

      And here's another question: how about penalizing the sites of companies that submit too many false DMCA takedowns? Like Scripps Local News, which has been frequently claiming copyright on footage from NASA missions, which is supposed to be public-domain. Or Universal Music Group, which submitted repeated bogus claims against Kim Dotcom's "Megaupload" song.

      But no. Because they're big companies, they're allowed to get away with repeatedly flouting the law, even though those claims are supposed to be "under penalty of perjury".
    • Google is not down-voting their own properties.

      YouTube would drop off the map for searches if they did that.
  • It's a dangerous game

    It's censorship. While I can understand why it may seem a good idea to eliminate sites with large numbers of IP complaints, if I were the competition, and could file unfounded complaints, then Google becomes my partner in crime.

    It's a dangerous road.
    • Yep

      That was my thought as well. The SEO guys have figured out how to 'game' every tweak that Google has come up with. If you can't make your own client's page rise to the top, maybe you can send his competitor's page to the bottom.
      Robert Hahn
    • Downranking, not eliminating

      The point is, they are downranking the results, not eliminating them.

      If you really want to look for pirated material, adding a term like "torrent" would get you what you want.

      Believe or not, some of us actually prefer legitimate sites for the content we search for.
  • google gonna go the way of the dodo doing crap like this

    gotta say if google starts playing internet cop instead of doing what its supposed to do it will just give other search engines their chance, ive been using for a while now because i was getting fed up of the same regurgitated crap google gives me based on my past search history instead of whats out there on the web. If they think people who are net savy enough to use all the complicated download systems out there, will just go "oh look piratebay isnt coming up in searches i guess they dont exist anymore", they are fukin retarded lol
    Tgc Gaming
    • I am finding DDG a good search engine.

      And it is working steadily on becoming a great engine. I know DuckDuckGo find I can use DDG about 95% of the time and seldom need the deep search and heavy weeding I get with Google results. But Google still has a very very deep index of the web and every possible site out there is seems at times.
    • If google doesn't do it, some other company will

      They're all going to act like virtual bullies, because nobody plays nice.

      It's the name of the game.
  • Google are Hypocrites

    Google Books is the biggest act of copyright infringement in the history of civilisation. They don't ask permission, they just take ! So are they going to take down their own links ?

    Darren Robinson
    • Google Books is what woke me up to Google's lip service of "Do no evil"

      After that atrocity of IP infringement, I actively started replacing all Google powered tech. From mail, storage, maps (MapQuest is now exceptional) to now DuckDuckGo for search, there is little need to use Google anymore. There are better options out there.
    • Google and piracy

      I gree with you. Google is a private company only, it is not a judge for the copyright issue. Google's highest priority is to provide as much related contents to its customers.

      as per piracy, Google is the biggest violater, all its contents are from others.

      Actually, it is very difficult to decide if a content is violating copyright. If an owner allows his content to be available from the internet, is it feasible to expect the copyright?
      • Not quite correct...

        Google's highest priority is to make a profit, which is made BY providing content to its customers... and finding ways to exploit content received (e.g. search engine keywords typed, amongst other possibilities...)
        • in short, a search engine, as defined by its terms of service,

          becomes the ultimate channel for "unintentional crowdsourcing"...