After many complaints from the music and entertainment industry, Google will no longer display search results from Pirate Bay, Isohunt, Torrentz.eu, Kickass.to, and other sites notorious for illegal downloads. Next week, the new search algorithm will begin fighting pirates worldwide.
The modification may be a response to last month’s condemnation from Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp (New York Times, New York Post). In a letter to the European Commission, Thomson called the search engine “a platform for piracy.”
Google first declared war on illegal downloads in August of 2012, with an update that prevented sites with copyright infringement complaints from holding high rankings in their search listings. Using tips filed through Google’s DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) system, the update filtered and downgraded sites that received piracy-related complaints from users.
“In 2013, we received just over 224 million DMCA requests for Google search results,” stated Google’s latest piracy report. “We ultimately removed 222 million, which means we rejected or reinstated less than 1% after review because we either needed additional information, were unable to find the page, or concluded that the material was not infringing.”
Their new update is much more ruthless, as the culprits will now virtually disappear from Google. Websites associated with search keywords like “download,” “free,” and “watch” have already seen a 98% markdown in visibility as a result of the new search algorithm.
“In August 2012, we first announced that we would downrank sites for which we received a large number of valid DMCA notices,” said Katherine Oyama, Google’s Senior Copyright Counsel. “We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites. This update will roll out globally starting next week.”
According to Oyama, Google is also playing with various methods of redirecting as a means of thwarting piracy. In forthcoming updates, they plan to alter download/torrent ads so that they link to legitimate websites where the content can be purchased such as Amazon, Spotify, and Netflix. They are also modifying their autocomplete function so that it will circumvent suggestions related to piracy or piracy websites.