In August of 2012, Google had made an agreement to be a little more restricting on their search results showing websites that engage in piracy and copyright infringement. About 18 months later, this well-appreciated search engine has yet to do anything towards “cracking down.” Read on for more details.
Amit Singhal, the senior vice president of engineering at Google, said that “sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results.” Chief executive Geoff Taylor also stated:
We have argued for some time that the fact that certain websites are subject to very high numbers of DMCA notifications, because they feature a large amount of illegal content, should be reflected in lower search rankings. Consumers overwhelmingly want and expect the top search results for entertainment content to feature legal, licensed services. We will look carefully at how much impact this change will have in practice, but we welcome the announcement from Google and will be pressing other search engines to follow suit.
However, in contradiction to these statements the Recording Industry Association of America says that the site still presents the serial infringers pretty high in search results. The auto-completion feature also leads to the sites most known for piracy. RIAA’s EVP and general counsel, Steven Marks, said the following in relation to this incident:
Unfortunately, our initial analysis concludes that so far Google’s pledge six months ago to demote pirate sites remains unfulfilled. Searches for popular music continue to yield results that emphasize illegal sites at the expense of legitimate services, which are often relegated to later pages. And Google’s auto-complete function continues to lead users to many of those same illicit sites.
In all fairness, Google did say that they will only enforce their limitations on sites that are properly labeled as violating copyright laws by the rights’ owner themselves. Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Julie Samuels and Mitch Soltz offered:
Takedown requests are nothing more than accusations of copyright infringement. No court or other umpire confirms that the accusations are valid (although copyright owners can be liable for bad-faith accusations). Demoting search results – effectively telling the searcher that these are not the websites you’re looking for – based on accusations alone gives copyright owners one more bit of control over what we see, hear, and read.
Google users take advantage of the site for the high volume of relevant results to their questions. With so much information floating around in the could, any Internet user will find the answers they are looking for. According to the RIAA, Google should have still gone in and enforced some preventative measures to make sure that the users don’t find what they are looking for. By default, this apparently means that Google is promoting piracy. In the words of TG Daily, “There’s just no pleasing some people.”