Google will now downrank websites that infringe on copyrights

The entertainment industry likes to target Google in its crusade to end online piracy. Until now, Google has come out unscathed for the most part, even having a judge rule that Google isn’t responsible for piracy links shown in search results. Still it isn’t hard to see how much pressure Google is under by industry groups and the government to try to mitigate copyright infringement. As such, Google is making a new move that will likely appease everyone except die-hard free speech activists and… people who like to pirate shit. Google will now downrank websites that infringe on copyrights.

How exactly does this work? According to the official blog post, the number of “valid copyright removal notices” a website receives will affect its rank in Google search results. The more notices a website has, the lower its rank will be in Google search. Google believes this will help facilitate traffic to “legitimate, quality sources of content”, such as Hulu and Spotify.

The MPAA, obviously, is pleased with this change. The following is a statement by Michael O’Leary, Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External Affairs at MPAA:

We are optimistic that Google’s actions will help steer consumers to the myriad legitimate ways for them to access movies and TV shows online, and away from the rogue cyberlockers, peer-to-peer sites, and other outlaw enterprises that steal the hard work of creators across the globe. We will be watching this development closely – the devil is always in the details – and look forward to Google taking further steps to ensure that its services favor legitimate businesses and creators, not thieves.

Without further clarity on how exactly Google will downrank websites for piracy, there will likely be some backlash from the above-mentioned free speech activities. In my opinion, however, this is a positive step by Google because while it won’t stop people who purposefully visit copyright infringing websites, it will help lower the amount of people who unknowingly or unintentionally visit a piracy website via Google search results. Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

[via Engadget]

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4 comments

  1. leland

    Unfortunately the DMCA (digital millennium copyright act) does not offer a safe harbor for offenses unless the links are taken down. If you decide not to take down a link then you can be liable. Many competitors often send in take down notices just to try to hurt the competition. To me Google’s new method of downgrading search results is likely to hurt innocent web sites because of this…

  2. Kraal

    @kelltic:
    I don’t get that from his post. All I get from his comment about free speech activists is that the most ‘hardcore’ of them won’t like google’s decision. I sense no malice, but rather feel it was simply to say that there is a group who think that google is doing a bad thing by trying to stave off piracy. (There will always be a group/s that think google/*insert any person/place/thing* is doing a bad thing)

    I also do not think Ashraf is making google out to be a saint here. It’s the quote from O’Leary that does: he “look[s] forward to Google taking further steps to ensure that its services favor legitimate businesses and creators, not thieves.” O’Leary sounds righteous, not Ashraf.

    With all that said, I’m indifferent towards this. Pirates will tend to find a way to pirate, no matter what. But good for google trying to deter people who are legitimately stealing. I do, however, hope that the method used to downrank does not hurt innocent sites, much like Kelltic. Although, I remain optimistic with what information I have been given. One valid take down notice shouldn’t be likely to kill a site’s rank on google.

  3. kelltic

    #1: You make it sound as if free-speech is something to be sneered at.
    #2: You make it sound like Google is working for the benefit of all mankind. A true believer, aren’t you?

    Here is ONE of the problems with your premise: “Without further clarity on how exactly Google will downrank websites for piracy . . .” They will downrank them any way they damn well please, and innocent people (websites) will be hurt.

    Yes, I believe in free speech. It was a wonderful thing while we had it.
    No, I am not a pirate, nor do I believe it is OK to steal.