The dominant search engine on the web, Google, has officially thrown down the gauntlet to sites that host pirated content, by updating its search algorithms to bury pirated content lower in its search results.
The company explained that, as of this week, it will begin taking into account a new signal in its rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices received for any given site.
This would mean that sites with high numbers of removal notices could appear lower in the search results that Google dishes up.
On its official blog
, Amit Singhal, the senior vice president of engineering, elaborated that since re-booting its copyright removals more than two years ago, Google has been provided with much more data by copyright owners about infringing content online.
Do two copy wrongs make it copyright?
“In fact, we’re now receiving and processing more copyright removal notices every day than we did in all of 2009 — more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone. We will now be using this data as a signal in our search rankings,” he revealed.
However, Singhal did admit that only copyright holders know if something is authorised, and only courts can decide if a copyright has been infringed; adding that Google cannot determine whether a particular webpage does or does not violate copyright law.
“While this new signal will influence the ranking of some search results, we won’t be removing any pages from search results unless we receive a valid copyright removal notice from the rights owner,” he continued.
Additionally, Singal pledged that Google would continue to provide "counter-notice" tools so that those who believe their content has been wrongly removed can get it reinstated, as well as continue being transparent about copyright removals.
To the point
According to Singal, this ranking change should “help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily — whether it’s a song previewed on NPR’s music website
, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify.”
While the undertaking may be noble, we can’t help wondering how effective it will truly be, and whether those searching for unlawful content won’t simply look for their results using other methods, such as message boards, or simply resort to using another search engine.