Google will no longer suggest to users search terms that point towards copyright infringing content, the company announced on Thursday in a concession to rights holders.
The announcement was made on Google's Public Policy Blog as part of the search giant's measures to "make copyright work better online". As well as removing autocomplete suggestions that point at copyright infringing material, Google also says it will build on its existing tools to allow US rights holders to submit Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) content removal requests more easily.
The company also said it was working on presenting legitimate preview content at the top of search results — for example, listing previews of music
tracks or film trailers from Amazon at the top of listings — but pointed out that this
would require permission from the content's rights holders. Google's moves on Thursday come in the context of the company's struggle to push its Google TV product while major networks refuse to allow their content to be streamed over the web video viewer.
Google said it would act on correctly submitted DMCA removal requests within 24 hours. It also said that it would improve 'counter-notice' tools for people who feel that their content was wrongly removed. The company added that it would also review its existing AdSense anti-piracy measures that prohibit ads being run on pages containing copyright material.
However, open rights campaigners say that the implementation will need to be carefully managed.
"Copyright owners have a right for infringing material to be taken down. But there is a potential and very significant cost to freedom of speech if legitimate uses are impeded, such as quotation for news reporting or review, and automated procedures can be none-too-subtle," Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, told ZDNet UK on Friday.
On Thursday, Google also announced that more than 100 million videos had been claimed by rights holders using its ContentID system, which uses audio and video matching tools to identify copyrighted content uploaded to YouTube.
"Nearly every major media company and music label in the world uses our tools. The number of reference files provided to us by rights holders now stands at more than four million, or over 300,000 hours of content — we think it's the most comprehensive database of its kind in the world," David King, product manager at YouTube wrote on the company blog.
It also announced on Thursday that it would penalise the search ranking of any website that provided a "poor user experience".