Google announced on 10 August 2012 that it would change the searching
algorithms so as to lower the search rankings of websites that receive a
high number of DMCA, European (Directive 2000/31/EC) or other similar
local legislation takedown requests.
“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. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may
appear lower in our results,” Google’s Amit Singhal wrote in a blog post.
The company has given in to the extensive and strong lobbying efforts of
the entertainment industry groups thus “punishing” websites such as
filestube.com, extratorrent.com, torrenthound.com, The Pirate Bay,
FilesTube, and even YouTube. Google emphasized the fact that it would
not be interested in whether the content of the sites is authorized or
not, the removal of the pages from its search results being made only
based on the number of valid DMCA or similar takedown notices.
“Only copyright holders know if something is authorized, and only courts
can decide if a copyright has been infringed; Google cannot determine
whether a particular web page does or does not violate copyright law,”
also writes Singhal.
“We will only be counting valid copyright removal notices based on
applicable laws, submitted under penalty of perjury by copyright owners,
that meet our take down criteria. We also provide counter-notice tools
for anyone concerned that their content has been wrongly removed. And
this really only applies to situations where there have been a large
number of removals. This is still just one ranking signal among
hundreds” explains Google in an answer by email to some concerns raised
As the results of the algorithm change can already be seen, The Pirate
Bay has only shown some disappointment for Google having given in to the
industry’s demands and the owner of fellow BitTorrent site isoHunt has
called for protests against antitrust bullying and censorship.
The main concern regarding the measures taken by Google is that
perfectly legal content will fall victim to it as many websites, such as
YouTube for instance, will be degraded entirely with all their content,
for having received many DMCA takedown requests. To this, the faulty
takedown requests are added which will lead to legitimate content being
pushed down the search rankings.
This action is one of the three demands made by the entertainment
industry to Google, Bing and Yahoo during a behind-closed-doors meeting
in 2011, the other two demands being to “prioritize websites that obtain
certification as a licensed site under a recognized scheme” and “stop
indexing websites that are subject to court orders while establishing
suitable procedures to de-index substantially infringing sites.”
“We have a process for individuals who feel their content has been
wrongly blocked and we work quickly to reinstate their content. Users
can already file a counter notice, and we plan to improve these tools
(see our Transparency Report for details). There are also legal
penalties available against those who knowingly misuse the takedown
process. Please note that counter notices are taken into account to
offset takedowns too” detailed Google in its email answers to EDRi.
Google Starts Punishing “Pirate” Sites In Search Results (10.08.2012)
Google URL Takedown Requests Up 100% In a Month, Up 1137% On 2011
Pirate Bay and isoHunt Respond to Google Search Result Punishment
An update in our search algorythm (10.08.2012)