This week Google will be rolling out a major change to the way in which its search engine provides results and will start ranking down sites that get lots of copyright infringement notices.
Google said that they are making this change in order to “help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily.” What it basically means is that when people search for movies or music, the highest ranked sites will be those like Spotify or Hulu rather than torrent sites like The Pirate Bay or MegaUpload.
Google won’t completely remove the torrent sites from their search results, it will just rank them much further down. It is believed that part of the reason that Google are introducing this new system is to try and appease the music and film industries which have long bemoaned that Google helps to facilitate piracy. Google are trying to make friends with the media industries at the moment in an attempt to nurture Google Play.
Google are secure in the belief that these changes will work, partly because of the sheer amount of data their current copyright infringement reporting system generates. According to The Verge, Google got 4.3million URL removal requests in the last month alone. That’s more than the entire amount that were reported in the whole of 2009. Wow that’s a lot of people moaning about copyright infringement!!
Google’s current copyright system has always had its critics though, with one of the major accusations against them being that they allow big companies to abuse the system in order to block legitimate speech. However, Google isn’t planning on being judge, jury and executioner…”Only copyright holders know if something is authorized, and only courts can decide if a copyright has been infringed; Google cannot determine whether a particular webpage does or does not violate copyright law.”
They are also trying to show a certain level of transparency and from May began showing all of the URL removal requests that they received. They also show which company has made the complaint and what sites they are targeting. According to these stats, the domains that are most frequently targeted are filestube.com, downloads.nl and torrenthound.com, it will be interesting to show how much these changes to the search system will affect the traffic on these sites.