The RIAA is unhappy with the efforts Google has made in order to push sites that receive plentiful DMCA notices down the pecking order in search results. After a lot of pressure, 6 months ago, Google finally caved into their requests and agreed to comply with some of the RIAA’s demands.
However just recently, the RIAA has issued an assessment on how well they feel Google has performed and unsurprisingly, they aren’t pleased with the results.
Their report states:
“we have found no evidence that Google’s policy has had a demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy. These sites consistently appear at the top of Google’s search results for popular songs or artists.”
The report continues to state that legitimate download sites like iTunes and Amazon only make their way into the top 10 in little more than 50% of searches and that sites which have received thousands of DMCA requests are 8 times more likely to appear in the results.
The RIAA states; “In other words, whatever Google has done to its search algorithms to change the ranking of infringing sites, it doesn’t appear to be working.”
TechDirt’s Mike Masnick has a different interpretation of what’s going on however. An interpretation that he says is “the right one”. Masnick focuses on the RIAA’s failure to take action in order to boost sites like iTunes up in the rankings, by altering them to be effective competitors in the marketplace. He points out that iTunes in particular is a “walled garden” with few people “linking in” and that is something that Google uses to determine relevance. He said; “The problem seems to be that those other sites just aren’t where people look for stuff when they’re searching Google for the music. That’s not Google’s fault.”
He claims that the RIAA’s methodology is suspect and clearly shows that they do not seem to understand the way in which the search engine works. He points to this example from the RIAA:
“For this analysis we performed searches for [artist] [track] mp3 and [artist] [track] download over a period of several weeks starting December 3, 2012.”
This, claims Masnick, is the RIAA’s first big mistake and sees it as an example that they are still painfully unaware of how Google operates. He points out that Google tailors specific responses to specific users in a bid to make them more relevant…So if the RIAA are getting the wrong kind of sites appear more frequently in their searches, it says a great deal about the kind of stuff that they are frequently looking for.
He says they have failed to understand that Google’s “entire business and algorithm are built, ground up, around the idea of understanding what people are looking for when they search, and then taking them to that place.” So people who are looking for ‘[artist] [track] mp3 and [artist] [track] download’ probably aren’t looking to buy a track, but looking to download one for free, so that’s where Google takes them. Even if iTunes, Amazon and eMusic were the top 3 results, these people would probably just ignore them. If the RIAA did a test search with the word “buy” thrown in their somewhere, the results would be very different.
In fact, some of the RIAA’s own data shows that Google is actually demoting sites that receive a great many DMCA notices, as sites which have amassed more than 10k DMCA notices appear less often than those with closer to 1k.
Google is, in fact, demoting sites that receive a lot of takedowns:
Masnick states that this latest report from the RIAA proves two points:
“The RIAA will never, ever be satisfied, no matter what Google does. Which again, reinforces the idea that it was probably a bad idea to even cave in the first place.”
“The RIAA still doesn’t understand how search works, nor does it seem to have any interest in learning. It doesn’t understand that every single other website in the world has to work hard to lift themselves up in Google’s search rankings …The RIAA gets a massive headstart on every other site in the world… and they still haven’t figured out how to take advantage of this.”
Image by Gizmodo