Google Announces New Strike on Piracy

Two years ago Google re-booted their initiative to rid the search results of pirated links, now it is taking it one step further. The new ranking system will start taking into account copyright infringement claims against links. The more complaints a link gets, the deeper it gets buried in the search results.

“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. 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. And we’ll continue to provide “counter-notice” tools so that those who believe their content has been wrongly removed can get it reinstated. We’ll also continue to be transparent about copyright removals.” – Amit Singhal, SVP, Engineering, Google

Essentially Google will become useless when it comes to searching for illegal torrents and the like. This should make the MPAA a little happier, but I’m sure that the torrent search sites are rejoicing as well. Without Google people will have to turn to those other sites as their starting place to find their bootleg fix. If anything this stops casual pirating more than the guys who are downloading three films, eight games and five software products a day.

Take a look at the Google Transparency Report for copyright removal requests, the numbers have grown to astronomical proportions with 4.3 million requests over the past month.

As the studios continue to shift importance from domestic US box office releases to foreign releases we are seeing more and more films open in other countries before their North American bow. This results in a greater risk of piracy before films hit the US market.

The question is how far does Google appease content producers before people stop using it? The perfect search engine would return what I was specifically looking for. So if I wanted to find an illegal copy of The Dark Knight Rises, but instead was directed to buy tickets or a DVD, are the right ethics being broken?

Obviously I believe you should pay for the entertainment you’re being provided, unless it’s offered as free from the source. But some movies really are a rip-off, and I could completely understand someone giving a bootleg of Battleship a try rather than paying the exorbitant ticket price to gamble on it being a good film, especially after it was unanimously panned. Unfortunately you can see how this creates a downward spiral of piracy, where movies loose ticket sales and thus have to raise prices to correct for the losses which leads to even less ticket sales and more piracy.

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