Google Search Results Punish Piracy Sites

Dennis Faas's picture

Google has announced it will punish websites accused of piracy by moving them lower in its search results rankings.

However, there are some questions flying around the Internet about whether Google's own YouTube video site will get special treatment.

The changes include a minor tweak to the way Google decides how high or low specific sites should appear in a search results list. The search giant says its automated system considers more than 200 factors, but doesn't say how much emphasis it gives to each one.

The new ranking method takes effect this week. Afterwards, search results will reflect how many times copyright holders have complained about a particular web page allegedly infringing copyright.

Sites provoking a lot of complaints are now expected to appear lower in the rankings than they did before the change.

Google says it won't completely remove a website from its results until it has received and investigated a more formal request from an unhappy copyright holder.

Google Ranking Changes Earn Both Praise, Criticism

Both the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have already praised the ranking system changes.

They suggest the new method should make it easier for users to find legitimate sources of content that properly reward and credit artists for their work.

It appears Google may have made these ranking changes to improve relations with media firms, particularly those in movies and television.

That's probably important because the company wants to set up deals with them to carry more programming on YouTube and other Google sites.

However, online privacy advocates are suspicious of the changes. They say Google needs to implement measures to make sure websites will not be punished on the basis of false accusations. (Source:

YouTube Will Escape Penalty

Meanwhile, there's some confusion about how the changes will affect YouTube, which is owned by Google. At first it appeared the video site might escape ranking reductions because it has a separate process for reporting alleged copyright breaches.

Google says that YouTube's reports will also be taken into account by the new ranking system.

However, the site may receive some special treatment because Google has indicated that major web pages won't receive a ratings hit even if they are the subject of many complaints. (Source:

Some observers suggest that Google will take into account the size of a site, along with the number of complaints before taking action. It's also possible Google may give a pass to large sites with well-established reputations.

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