This may not be strictly Android-related news, but it's safe to say that what Google does to search results is relevant to our readers' interests, no? Today, Google announced via its Inside Search blog that the company will start including the volume of valid copyright removal notices as a factor in determining how high or low a site ranks in its search results. Translation: pirate sites won't be removed entirely, but they'll start ranking lower than legitimate sites.
Pretty soon, sites like the Pirate Bay won't be the #1 search result anymore.
The net effect of this change will likely be very minimal to the more hardcore pirates. It will, however, make it difficult for the average, uninformed user to stumble into a life of
rum-soaked parties and plundering torrents and illicit video streams. The bigger takeaway is that it seems Google is becoming a bit more willing to play ball with copyright owners on combating piracy in its search results.
It's no secret that Google and the movie/music industries haven't gotten along in the past. When the search giant first launched Google Music beta back in 2011, it was reported that the company couldn't secure deals with major record labels. Apparently, among other reasons, Google was unwilling to remove links to pirate sites from its search results.
Google reiterates this core belief in its blog post today when it says "Google cannot determine whether a particular webpage does or does not violate copyright law." Indeed, the moment Google starts deciding what can and cannot not be found by its users, the company stops being a search engine and starts playing the role of a court of law.
However, no one ever said Google can't lower a site's ranking. This happens all the time. In fact, it's the whole point of a search engine: finding the most relevant information that a user is looking for. Of course, finding information about illegal activities does not itself constitute committing a crime, and even now Google walks a fine line. Still, this may be the best compromise Google and copyright owners can agree on without Mountain View becoming the cyber police.
That being said, it's still a pretty dramatic shift in Google's stance. Whether this is being driven by a behind-the-scenes attempt to get more content into the Play Store is unknown (though highly likely). Either way, the company is clearly sympathizing with its content partners more now than it has in the past.
Thankfully, site owners will still have the same tools at their disposal to combat false claims of infringement. Google also reiterates that it will continue to operate its Transparency Report to keep users informed of just how many takedown notices it receives. If you're a site owner or just a concerned citizen, you might do well to take a look at who's doing most of the reporting. Currently, the RIAA is the number one copyright owner in terms of number of takedown requests, with Microsoft trailing at number two.
Source: Google Inside Search Blog