Search engine will use copyright infringement notices so illegal sites are harder to find in general search, thus promoting legitimate content
Google today began pushing alleged copyright-infringing websites down its search rankings but stopped short of removing any from listings.
The company said the move was to help "users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily."
The move, seen by some as caving in to Hollywood moguls, is possible because Google said it was receiving more data from copyright holders. However, Google said website owners can issue appeals against a notification and it would not be taking down any sites.
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Amit Singhal, the senior vice president of Engineering at Google said on the company's official blog: "So while this new signal will influence the ranking of some search results, we won't be removing any pages from search results unless we receive a valid copyright removal notice from the rights owner.
In Google searches, websites are typically ranked on how many other sites link to them. However, from today Google will influence the search rankings by tweaking its search algorithms based on copyright infringement notifications and other factors it would not reveal.
This internet users highlighted that as websites don't receive the notices Google gets, legitimate sites could be penalised.
Singhal said: "We'll continue to provide "counter-notice" tools so those who believe their content has been wrongly removed can get it reinstated. We'll also continue to be transparent about copyright removals.
He added that Google would not take down sites pointing out that "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 web page does or does not violate copyright law."
It is believed that the move is unlikely to affect YouTube and could help Google with its move into offering content. The search engine is already talking about providing a TV package delivered over super-fast fibre optic broadband in Kansas City.
Michael O'Leary, of the MPAA, said the organisations was "optimistic" that the change to search rankings would push legitimate sites further up at the expense of those infringing copyright
"We will be watching this development closely – the devil is always in the details – and look forward to Google taking further steps to ensure that its services favour legitimate businesses and creators, not thieves," O'Leary added.
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