Google Downgrades Piracy In Search Results

Sites which break copyright law will shoot down in search results starting from next week. Will it help end copyright theft?

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Google has decided to downgrade piracy search results in response to criticism from rights holders who complained that illegal file sharing sites were often more visible than the legal alternatives.

"Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site," wrote engineer Amit Singhal on the official Google blog.

"Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results. This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily whether it's a song previewed on NPR's music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify."

Google won't completely remove results from its listings unless it receives a valid copyright notice from the rights holder, and will offer a means for sites to challenge these claims if they are wrongly accused.

It's a big win for copyright holders such as record labels. With over 400 million searches made every day, any nudge towards legal sources of content will help creative industries generate more money to invest in artists.

Are you pleased with this new effort by Google, or should it do more to combat piracy? Let us know in the comments.

58 comments sorted by best / new / date

    metalhead2475
    This won't do much, pro piraters don't need Google to find songs to download, and you can go use another site if you have to.
    dyerseve30
    Sure, you are never gonna stop piracy. There is always another way, and leave it to these expert 'pro piraters' to find them. However, not everyone is a pro, and making it harder is better than doing nothing. I think the realistic goal is not to eliminate piracy, but simply reduce the number of pirates. Like unemployment. There will always be people without a job. However, you keep that number around 4% and the economy will be fine. Keep piracy to 4% of all downloads, I don't think there will be a problem. But hey, I'm only a human biology major, so I guess I don't know.
    BigMikeBDD
    Piracy is not going away. You have to find a way to work with it, embrace it and roll with it or die.
    AndyZ
    Embrace it and roll with it? Piracy is obviously not going away, but you are basically saying that artists should always give their songs away for free, because people know a way to get them for free anyway. That's some stupid logic there. That's like saying that drugs should be made legal, cause drug users are always gonna find a way to get drugs anyway.
    dewitt
    Actually, I do think drugs should be made legal and regulated - some more harshly than others. There will always be drug users, and they will always be able to get their drugs, but think about this: as a teenager, was it easier to buy a bag of pot or was it easier to buy alcohol/get someone to buy it for you? A practically harmless (and sometimes useful) intoxicant such as weed might not be the best example, but I would guess somewhere upwards of 75% of kids could get their hands on marijuana - an illegal 'controlled' substance - much easier than alcohol - a legally regulated substance. I think that's something to think about.
    TheExterminator
    That's like saying that drugs should be made legal, cause drug users are always gonna find a way to get drugs anyway.
    .. But that's exactly the point why the should be made legal. A) the only one who can possibly be harmed by drug-use is the user, so it is their right to use it. B) making it legal, and making the production and distribution of drugs a professional business, will make both the buying and selling of drugs safer, but also the drugs themselves a lot cleaner and safer to use. People are going to use them, regardless of their legality. It's best to just make it as safe and as clean as possible. As for piracy. The majority of good bands already do give their music away for free, because they realize that touring is the only way to make money. The only bands who complain about piracy are the ones who have moved away from the "music" end of things, and are focusing on the "industry" part. These could be older bands who have been completely removed from the music world and their fanbase, or newer bands who are jumping on crappy commercial trends. The industry is killing music, not the simple act of sharing music. Music is a community, not a market.
    guitar7masta
    Criminalization of marijuana only creates a violent market for it. Time and time again it has been proven that marijuana does very little harm to the body, and can even alleviate a variety of medical ailments. I may hold bias in the debate, but I feel like it should be common sense that we try to sell/tax/regulate marijuana just like tobacco or alcohol. "Piracy is obviously not going away, but you are basically saying that artists should always give their songs away for free, because people know a way to get them for free anyway." In no way did they say that, you just elevated the conversation to an extremist point of view to make your take on the situation seem more reasonable. Piracy is a literal impossibility without overt censorship of almost everything on the internet. Did you notice what happened when the government "shut down" piratebay? Nothing. Another one popped up immediately.
    AndyZ
    Yeah I know they didn't say that exactly, but some people here are kinda hinting it. And when I say drugs, I'm not referring to weed, but to some real drugs. If it's legal (drugs, piracy etc.) and there's no sanctions to face, the society is saying that it's ok to do it. Keeping things illegal and trying to give people the message that it's not ok, some people might stop thinking that "Hey, maybe this isn't the right thing to do".
    guitar7masta
    "Yeah I know they didn't say that exactly, but some people here are kinda hinting it." Eh, sorry I don't really see it. "If it's legal (drugs, piracy etc.) and there's no sanctions to face, the society is saying that it's ok to do it. Keeping things illegal and trying to give people the message that it's not ok, some people might stop thinking that "Hey, maybe this isn't the right thing to do"." My biggest problem is how extreme the consequences are. If the government caught me stealing one movie, I can be fined 250,000 dollars with jail time on top of that. My entire livelihood could be flipped upside down, it could make me live the rest of my life poor all because of one little movie. Same thing with drugs, but what's even worse about that is drug users need HELP. No jail time, they need rehabilitation. There is nothing inherently right or wrong about using drugs, that is something we all need to understand.
    Scarface88
    A) the only one who can possibly be harmed by drug-use is the user, so it is their right to use it.
    This is so ignorant it's offensive. What about people who, for instance, have to breathe in the foul stench of marijuana of others' smoke? What about the families and loved ones of drug users or addicts? They may have to suffer physical or psychological abuse themselves at the hands of their loved one, or even have to suffer because that person dies as a result of drug use or addiction. I'm sorry that this comment is off-topic, but comments like this seriously piss me off.
    zomgguitarz1234
    It sucks to because gaming companies are probably going to lean more towards multiplayer and pay2win crap to restore funds lost by piracy. Thanks pirates, you really showed me how you're fighting the good fight.
    zn-1
    Uh, that's exactly what they're saying about Marijuana... People smoke it anyway and even though it's illegal, they find new ways to produce and distribute it.
    TheTee56
    Can't I say the same for murder, robbery, blackmail etc?
    J0HNNYBR4V04756
    Yes, because killers are in the same boat as people who want to listen to a song for free? Besides, if you wanted to support the band, go to their live shows.
    Jimmypageclone
    Going to a bands live shows isn't enough. Lets clear some stuff, record Labels aren't around to **** over bands. Every band needs to sign to one (if they're lucky) if they want to make it in the industry. These labels sink a lot of money into the albums and advertising. As a result, the band needs to pay them back. Buy songs, buy albums, buy their shit. Going to live concerts helps, but it doesn't get the job done.
    ranbat
    Bands get hit over the head by labels. Most bands make their fortunes on live shows and merch, not album sales. Granted, without the label promotion, most bands would never make it, but they have never been there to do the bands any favors.
    WastedTele
    any nudge towards legal sources of content will help creative industries generate more money to invest in artists
    Brilliant. I can't wait to see what they have to offer us. I can see it now in lights across the world: "TONIGHT ONLY: JUSTIN CYRUS BROTHERS", as the kids that don't really know a thing about piracy que up to see the latest fad.
    Shaggy91
    "Because what we really want is to make sure that record labels and big businesses continue to make major profit off of us" said nobody. ever.
    DickHardwood
    That won't change squat. If you download once from somewhere, you can go back. If you wanna start pirating and don't know how all you have to do is post "Any good torrent sites?" or "How to download smth?" on your frickin' facebook status and someone will tell you. Google only does this to avoid the badmouthing.
    kratos379
    Yeah this won't have much effect on piracy. I'm glad that they didn't remove the sites off of the search engines though. I feel as if that's a dangerous step towards censorship. This isn't to say that I like piracy though. I prefer having the physical copy of an album, and given that I like to listen to metal and jazz, I need to support them so that they can continue making music. I don't get to go to concerts much, so this is the best that I can do.
    tffan92
    Darn. Google wins on this one. I never go past the first page of results.
    N1kola189
    BigMikeBDD is right about one thing. piracy isn't going away. why pay for something that you can get for free, right? but the fact of the matter is, people are STILL going to pay for music, just not like what we saw in the 90's. people do feel an attachment to artists/bands that we enjoy. that's why people still hand over an ungodly amount of money to venues to see our favorite bands/artists in concert, by their over priced tour shirts, and for some people, sign up for their fan clubs. but with the amount of unruly clutter online with reverbnation, facebook, bandpage, and all those sites, we're going to get pickier about who we give our money too. but this is an important step, because even though artists get very little money in royalties, they don't see royalties until the advance they were given for the album is paid off. and i'm more comfortable seeing an artist get an extra $0.10 per song i download off of iTunes, than to pirate it.
    bustapr
    I dont think this would be of much effect against pirating. anyone whos serious about pirating will find a way, even if it takes them more time. A way that would combat it is to remove them completely from the search engine results, but that would definitely be a 13 incher up googles ass.
    mradubz33
    So you have to scroll down a little further to find the 'illegal' torrent sites?...which literally means moving your index finger a few more times, taking up a couple more seconds to find them. Is this really a deterrent? I guess if you're the record companies, you have to celebrate the little victories.
    BrojoJojo
    Oh no, now when I google "New Drake Single" I'll have to scroll down to get to The Pirate Bay.
    mysticguitar77
    Google is just doing this to shut the people that have been all over them for supporting piracy up. Google, as well as anybody with common sense, knows that this isn't going to make any difference whatsoever. According to isohunt, 75% of traffic to piracy sites are direct traffic, meaning people directly type the URL in to get to the site, 20% comes through searches. Now that Google downgrades piracy sites, the direct traffic is just going to rise, traffic through searches will go down, it balances out, hence it makes zero difference at all. As long as it's there, people will find a will and a way to get it. Having to scroll down a few extra times or...wait for it... having to go to the next page because that's just so much added work isn't going to do anything to stop piracy. This isn't a victory for the war against piracy, this is just yet another doomed to fail petty attempt at stopping it.
    teknoman
    So... do this means that the first 5 pages of search results will be online stores?
    guitar7masta
    If you go in searching for illegal downloads, odds are you will walk away with them regardless of how long it takes to find it. I imagine there are some people that would just go "screw it, i'll just buy it" but I also imagine they are an extremely small minority.
    MyS3lF
    so i cant youtube trough google anyway ?
    dewitt
    The funny thing is that nobody seems to care that YouTube essentially gives you an illegal copy of the songs you listen to. All you have to do is pull it from your temp folder and extract the audio. How is that any different from torrenting? Artists and record labels usually see next to nothing for YouTube hits anyway, since most videos/songs are posted by third-party consumers (and they certainly don't get any money from the ISPs for your bandwidth usage). So what's the difference in going back to that same third-party location over and over to 'legally' 'stream' a song, and saving that same file to your computer for convenient repeated usage?
    J-Dawg158
    Posting copyrighted material on Youtube is most certainly not legal. Read the terms of use. From their site:
    Posting copyright-infringing content can lead to the termination of your account, and possibly monetary damages if a copyright owner decides to take legal action (this is seriousyou can get sued!).
    dewitt
    Yeah, I know that. That's why I put the marks around the word 'legally.' But the difference is that most of them allow it. It's extremely prevalent, and they don't seem to mind. However, even the 100% legal clips posted on YouTube by the band, the label, Vevo, etc., still give you a copy of your own when you view the video. It's in your temp folder. If you essentially never clear your temp folder, how is that any different than copying the file into another folder? I don't remember agreeing to (or being required to) refresh the page/ads every time I replay the video, so if I replay it 500 times in the same instance - on a legal upload - how is that any different than playing the file straight from your own directory 500 times? Besides that, they give you the copy of the file. All you do is move it to another location.
    guitar7masta
    Youtube has always been an iffy situation with that, if a record company wants a song removed then it happens. Most people are so computer savvy so they don't worry about it as much on youtube. The you got the ads between videos, I'm not sure where all the money goes but it wouldn't surprise me if the record companies get a cut for the ads on their music videos.
    TJWhonley
    "how different is that from torrenting" its faster, legal and isn't really porn
    GuitarQ33r0
    So now pirates have to scroll down more! Show those pirates who's boss "rights holders".
    Seref
    If you're using google, who tracks your searches, to look for torrents--you're doing it wrong.
    Fat Lard
    Dammit Google! Shouldn't you be spending more of your time and energy in getting Fiber out instead?
    Northernmight
    Thats fine. As far as i know, alot of this piracy stuff was originally pressed by the big companies that now sue people for using it. It's a well-planned scam, if you ask me.
    Miyagi84
    I'll say as someone who uses the internet to dl music illegally, it's gotten alot harder to find stuff on google now. I still have my ways, but they are definitely making it harder for the unmotivated to get initiated into finding more ways to dl.
    Kajinaga
    Bro do you know how much money artists get from their albums? Not much at all! If you buy an album for 10 dollars, the band gets a dollar maybe 2 per album. They make a lot more money selling 15-30 dollar shirts and the revenue they receive from shows. Also you have to count in that the labels don't do crap for the artists. If an artist is stuck on the side of the road and has a show to do that night, the label won't do crap to get them there. Most labels are all about the money and it's hard to get on one that doesn't try to pressure you to change what made you good.
    i_am_metalhead
    This is where you're wrong. ISOhunt, in particular, have claimed that about 1/4 of their site traffic comes from Google searches. I'm sure that other torrent and filesharing sites have similar figures.
    i_am_metalhead
    This was supposed to be a reply to metalhead2475... not quite sure how this new posting system works though... lol
    iommi600
    It's been happening for quite some time, guess they'll just intensify the stuff now.