The World Wide Web is vast, but don’t be fooled – cutting corners when it comes to copyright will be penalised. Google has recently announced an update to its search ranking algorithm which is set to downgrade websites hosting pirated content.
Google’s senior vice president of engineering, Amit Singhal announced that sites which have repeatedly received valid Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests, will in the future be placed on the bottom of search result listings. As he explained in a blog post last week, Google had noticed a significant increase in reported copyright violations on the web over the past two years. “We are now receiving and processing more copyright removal notices in one day than we did in all of 2009, more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone”, Singhal wrote.
He added that Google was not in a position to make a judgement on whether or not content on a website was authorised by licence holders. Artists will have to continue to report unauthorised use of their work and take appropriate steps, including legal action, to have content removed. Amit Singhal pointed out that “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.”
This commitment from the world’s most popular search engine to help protect the rights of artists has received overwhelming support from the creative industries. Geoff Taylor, the chief executive of The British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) welcomed the new influential ally in the fight against online content piracy. The BPI had been lobbying for a penalty for hosts of illegal content for a long time and, whilst he remains hopeful, Taylor said his organisation would “look carefully at how much impact this change will have in practice”.
He also stressed the need for other search engines to adopt similar measures in order to ensure artists’ rights are protected effectively across the web.
Sources: BBC News