Business News Digital Legal

Google pledges to further demote piracy sites in search listings

By | Published on Monday 20 October 2014


Google has made another commitment to downgrade piracy sites in its search engine results based on takedown notices issued under America’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act, amidst continued pressure from the content industries that see the web giant as having a key role to play in their continued battle against online copyright infringement.

Coming alongside a new edition of the web company’s ‘How Google Fights Piracy’ report, which bigs up the firm’s other rights management initiatives, Google’s Senior Copyright Policy Counsel Katherine Oyama pledged in a blog post an “improved DMCA demotion signal in search”.

She wrote: “In August 2012 we first announced that we would downrank sites for which we received a large number of valid DMCA notices. We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites. This update will roll out globally starting next week”.

As previously reported, while music industry trade groups welcomed that original 2012 announcement, most subsequently reckoned that the changes had little impact, with unlicensed content sources still routinely scoring high in Google searches. It remains to be seen if the rights owners are any more impressed with the latest promised alterations.

The boss of UK record label trade body the BPI, Geoff Taylor, told CMU on Friday: “When fans search for music or films, they should get legal results – it’s as simple as that. If these new steps help guide more consumers to services like Spotify, Deezer and iTunes, which give back to music, instead of to fraudulent torrent or hosting sites, then they would represent a step forward for artists, labels and all those trying to build a thriving music economy online”

He went on: “The BPI, together with colleagues from the film industry, will continue to meet with the search engines and government to ensure these measures make a real difference and to persuade Bing and Yahoo to take similar action”.

“We will also press for other steps to marginalise the online black market, including the delisting of sites ruled illegal by the courts, clearer signposting of legal services, and the swift removal of pirate apps. We will monitor the results carefully, but we are encouraged that Google has recognised the need to take further action and will continue to work with the search engines and government to build a stronger digital music sector”.

In reality, the changes promised by Google last week don’t really go anywhere near what the record industry wants – in particular the complete de-listing of sites that have been subject to web-block injunctions – som even if this alteration to the web giant’s search engine does have more tangible results, the music rights companies will still continue to lobby for more action on Google’s part.

Google’s role in fighting piracy is explored in the latest edition of the CMU Digest Report, available from the CMU Shop here.