Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Google Announces New Effort to Downgrade Pirate Sites in Search Results

Last week Google announced that it has adjusted its search algorithm to account for copyright removal notices filed against infringing websites. In theory, this means that websites with high totals of copyright removal requests will be more likely to appear lower in Google's search results, thus favoring sites offering legitimate access to licensed music (which will appear higher up, in place of the pirate sites).

Read the initial coverage from the Associated Press, via Yahoo News:

Read Google's announcement on Inside Search - The Official Google Search Blog:

Given Google's tenuous relationship with the entertainment industry, some may see this as an olive branch offering, but others are skeptical at best. For starters, Google does not seem to be subjecting its own YouTube to these new rules.

First, take a look at this report released by Google which lists domains with the most takedown requests filed over the last 16 months or so:

While there are some familiar names high up on the list, YouTube is not one of them. Of course, the natural question is: why? Online publication "Search Engine Land" may have found one contributing factor: Google seems to treat YouTube takedown requests differently than search removal requests. For more details, follow "Search Engine Land" as they walk through the process step by step:

But YouTube may not be the only site that qualifies for special treatment. This follow up report by "Search Engine Land" suggests that Google's algorithm is actually considering much more than just the total number of takedown requests received, which ultimately may limit the effects on all sites with illegally posted content:

Finally, Billboard has shared their findings from a few casual searches for pirated music conducted one week into the new algorithm changes. So far, the results don't seem to be too different from before:

That said, these changes are only one week old, so there is a lot left to see. Mark Mulligan offers some interesting thoughts as to Google's real intentions behind this move and how it all may play out over the coming months (Hint: cooperation from content owners may become increasingly important to the success of "Google Play" - Google's paid content ecosystem). You can read Mark's projections here:

How do you think this will ultimately play out? Leave your thoughts and comments below!

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