Google pushes forward with its voluntary pro-copyright policing

By EDRi · October 22, 2014

For the past number of years, Google has chosen to impose US copyright law on the world, completely de-indexing any website which fulfils the non-judicial criteria of a valid order under American law. Last year alone, it removed 222 000 000 links, which means 74 links per second. In addition to applying US copyright law globally, it also applies national law nationally. So, Google will also delete or de-index in any European country, on the basis of the national law of that country as well as deleting or de-indexing in any European country on the basis of US law.

In addition to this, Google also voluntarily “demotes” entire domain names that have been included in a “substantial number” of complaints that have been filed under US law. In addition, Google also contracts with US company “legitscript” to identify “bad” pharmaceutical advertising. This arrangement has been heavily criticised by Pharmacy Checker, an online pharmacy review/comparison service, which alleges various breaches of competition and ethics.

On 17 October, Google announced that it would do what it had previously claimed that it is already doing – demoting search results for entire domains in relation to which “substantial” numbers of complaints had been received under US law. They also promised not to use auto-complete of search terms in situations where those searches would have produced searches that had been accused of being in breach of US law.

The UK newspaper The Guardian also reported that UK rightsholder organisation, the British Phonograpic Industry wants Google to “remove” entire domains. So, if, for example, Tumblr or WordPress were subject to a large number of complaints, instead of de-indexing the specific Tumblr or WordPress sites that were accused of breaking US law, Google would simply make or unfindable.

Demotion of search results – Correspondence between state attorneys general (10.12.2013)

Google to state AG’s: We’ve blocked over 3 million bad ads from “rogue online pharmacies” (20.06.2013)

Call for an investigation of John Horton, President of LegitScript, for possible government ethics violations

Google says latest search changes will ‘visibly affect’ piracy site rankings (20.10.2014)