Google to rank down alleged copyright infringers

Has Google caved to pressure from copyright holders? Without explanation last Friday, the company announced that its search algorithm will soon start ranking down websites accused of copyright infringement. While marked sites may not be pulled off the results altogether, they’re likely to be bumped down.

Here’s Google’s rather evasive description of the change:

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. 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.

The company goes on to reassure site owners that they’ll have options if wrongfully targeted. “We won’t be removing any pages from search results unless we receive a valid copyright removal notice from the rights owner. And we’ll continue to provide ‘counter-notice’ tools so that those who believe their content has been wrongly removed can get it reinstated,” the company says.

Still, it looks like the new scheme will follow the adage of “shoot first, ask questions later.” Considering how over-zealous copyright censors have proven to be time and again, site owners—especially folks who run loosely moderated, community-driven operations—may find themselves holding the short end of the stick. Down-ranking or removal from Google results pages could cut traffic, curb income, and threaten their very survival.

Meanwhile, YouTube is packed to the brim with copyrighted content that, for whatever reason, managed to slip through the cracks—and it probably collects massive quantities of copyright removal notices. Will Google start to rank down its own video sharing service? I very much doubt it.

Comments closed
    • pogsnet
    • 7 years ago
    • JohnC
    • 7 years ago

    Such a pointless “feature”… How about doing something more useful, like “downranking” all the useless search results from sites like “FixYa” or “BoardReader” or even “answers.yahoo.com” and other similar crap??? I do not search for pirated content on Google (I actually buy each and every movie/TV series/software application/game), but regardless of what I search I very often get pages and pages of search results from these irrelevant sites…

      • rrr
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah, Yahoo! Answers, nothing like reading answers of random people, who 90% of the time have no idea, what they are talking about.

    • Vrock
    • 7 years ago

    Good.

    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    So does this mean if I google “google” or “youtube” they drop to dead last in the results?

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      Amazing.

    • Sahrin
    • 7 years ago

    I’ll be interested to hear the DoJ’s flimsy rationalization for letting the monopoly search provider censor results.

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      They’re not censoring anything.

        • Sahrin
        • 7 years ago

        “Sure you can ride the bus African American, just stand in the back.”

          • derFunkenstein
          • 7 years ago

          OK that’s ridiculous. I wish I could -1 you more than once on this completely asinine comparison. This is nothing even remotely close to government-sanctioned segregation.

            • Meadows
            • 7 years ago

            Now we know that African Americans pirate software. The assholes.

            • Sahrin
            • 7 years ago

            How was it government sanctioned? The Mobile Bus Company was a private enterprise.

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 7 years ago

            Jim Crow laws. [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws[/url<] PS. [quote<]Jim Crow laws were a product of the solidly Democratic South.[/quote<] Democrats are the real racists (byrd) and race pimps (obama).

    • Grigory
    • 7 years ago

    The world needs a search engine as good as Google without an agenda.

      • steelcity_ballin
      • 7 years ago

      [url<]http://duckduckgo.com/[/url<]

        • Grigory
        • 7 years ago

        Thank you! 🙂 I will test it in the following days. I tried it once and it seems strange. (I am too lazy to elaborate.)

      • Sahrin
      • 7 years ago

      bing.com

      In before the downvoters who have never used bing tell you it’s no good.

        • DarkUltra
        • 7 years ago

        I used bing on my windows phone, but after a while I realized the search results was considerably worse so I use google instead. I can’t change the built-in button with bing search, so I open the browser and type in goo and then press on the already-visited-links-suggestion [url<]http://www.google.com[/url<] every time I wanto search the web. Something more on topic, censorship is a tricky thing. And this could be abused by corporations, what is "a valid" copyright notice? There are copyright holders claiming copyright on media they don't own. If you want fewer malware sites on the internet look into knujon. There is some lack of transparency and inefficiency at ICANN. edit: spelling

        • Rand
        • 7 years ago

        I actually forced myself to use it exclusively for a week about two months ago and ended up reluctantly going back to Google, it had it’s perks but far too often I wasn’t able to easily find what I was looking for.

        That said, I continue to be actively looking for something besides Google.
        Haven’t gotten around to giving duckduckgo a good trial yet though.

        • Grigory
        • 7 years ago

        I tried bing too, for a while. The results weren’t as good as Google’s for me, tho. Still, I would say Bing is the second best search engine out there and using it to avoid Google because of their agenda could be justified.

    • odizzido
    • 7 years ago

    Google has been getting more and more willing to censor it’s results. It’s too bad because I’ve always liked how google worked, but I suppose I will need to consider looking for a new search engine soonish as I am sure google will just get worse.

    • Voldenuit
    • 7 years ago

    Welcome to Web 3.0, where the internet devolves into nothing but corporate-sponsored homepages and propaganda sites.

      • Arclight
      • 7 years ago

      It’s true, it has been that way for some time but not as “in your face” as it is now.

    • indeego
    • 7 years ago

    Control+F [i<]Evil[/i<] ? Consider me disappointed in TR...

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      I found it! It’s right here:

      [url<]https://techreport.com/discussions.x/23408?post=659399[/url<]

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    No shocker there. I suspect this precedes the announcement of some kind of Big Content deal with Google for the Google Play store or something to do with their tablet strategy. Possibly even something more with GoogleTV. The biggest point of contention has always been that the Media makers are rankled that Google wants them to play nice with their content players while supposedly screwing them with their search engine.

    If Google is backing down from their resistance to this fight, then that means they’re getting something and probably something big.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    You could run an entire presidential campaign off of patent reform.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      AND YOU COULD FAIL TO GET ELECTED!

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      Not quite…you’d have to have some other kicker like the economy, but it would certainly be a strong point. If you were seeking reelection and had patent/copyright/digital rights as a signature piece of legislation, however, that might score you a major victory.

      I know it’s not quite your point, but certainly interesting =P

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        I don’t know… Grandmas getting sued into submission can look pretty good. You just have to cast it in the right light!

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 7 years ago

    Google can spontaneously combust for all I care. Been using duckduckgo exclusively ever since I found out about them. No way I’m going to continue to use a search engine that databases my searches for advertising, personalized results, and compliance with the nsa spy grid. I don’t use services that don’t respect my privacy.

      • tviceman
      • 7 years ago

      Hey Mr. Conspiracy theory, if you’re using the internet and you’re not Jason Bourne then chances are nobody cares about you AND, at the same time, you’re not as untraceable as you think you are based on your search engine habits. And who really cares that much about what advertisements pop up on the side of a search result or in your mail box? In the multitude of years I’ve used google (and now gmail) not once have I ever clicked or paid any attention to those ads. But whatever helps you sleep at night…

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 7 years ago

        I could care less about your opinions/insults. I fully realize I am not Jason Bourne, nor am I doing anything illegal that I need to hide. My decision to use duckduckgo is solely based on my personal convictions that privacy should be respected, and so should the rule of law, which says the gov. can’t spy on you without a warrant. I also could care less about the advertisements, which seems to be a large part of your argument. Personalized results on the other hand are basically Google being an Internet gatekeeper/censor that keeps people from seeing controversial search results, which is something I don’t agree with. If anything helps me sleep at night, it’s honesty and respect, which are virtues that are solely lacking in today’s society.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          YOU’RE NOT JASON BOURNE? ARE YOU AARON CROSS? PLEASE SAY YES, OR MY IMAGINARY IMAGE OF YOU WILL HAVE BEEN DESTROYED.

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 7 years ago

            You can imagine me as Davy Crockett wearing a coonskin cap for all I care.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            [url<]http://tinyurl.com/8l35ept[/url<] THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I IMAGINE YOU!!

            • Forge
            • 7 years ago

            I don’t know about him, but I’m Augustin Castel. Don’t tell Treadstone.

          • tviceman
          • 7 years ago

          It’s not spying if you are willing using a service in which this service takes information that you give it and performs a service for you, in hopes of servicing you well.

          If Google was coming into your home at night without your consent and going through your mail, dvr, trash, internet cache, etc. , or better yet, MIND CONTROLLING you into typing in information into their search engine, or browsing from their browser in any mode other than incognito, then sure that would be spying.

          Do you not use shopper cards at your local grocery store or dicks, etc.? Those things TRACK WHAT YOU BUY FROM THEM. OH GOD ARE THEY SPYING ON ME TOO?

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]"performs a service for you, in hopes of servicing you well."[/quote<] And it just so happens I don't want that type of service. [quote<]If Google was coming into your home at night without your consent and going through your mail, etc[/quote<] Guess what? They do "go through" your email and search results, nor is that ALL they go through. [url<]http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/14/google-admits-to-accidentally-collecting-personal-data-with-street-view-cars/[/url<] Pssh, accidental. Right. [quote<]CONTROLLING you[/quote<] Do you not understand the concept of personal results? [quote<]Do you not use shopper cards[/quote<] No. Not unless I really want to, and I do know they track what I buy.

            • tviceman
            • 7 years ago

            Google is going through your email because you are using gmail. If you are using time warner, hotmail, yahoo, or any other NON-google service then blamo they aren’t going through your email.

            SO AGAIN, If google was coming inot your home at night WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT…

          • cegras
          • 7 years ago

          I’m pretty sure your search results are only one of the contributors to the profile that companies have on you. Ever shopped at a big box store? Do you have a credit card? Made an online purchase? Facebook?

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 7 years ago

            No Facebook. I know their privacy sucks, Zuckerman called his users dumb *explicatives* for trusting him, and he scammed everyone on their stock. Diaspora would be a good alternative if I cared to use social networking, but the closest I come to using a social service is Steam, and it’s privacy policies are somewhat reasonable.

            I understand there are plenty of ways companies spy on you, and not all of them are avoidable. That’s not the point. I avoid what I can out of principle, not that I’m attempting to live off the grid, although I have enough books on the subject.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            but what about the rest?

            • cegras
            • 7 years ago

            Why avoid google out of principle if other companies have just as complete profiles on you?

            You can just as easily install ‘disconnect’ and continue to use google.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 7 years ago

          You COULD care less but you don’t, which means you care at least some.

          Not a surprise given the fact that you replied to the post, but if you’re really trying to be the apathetic slob you claim to be, the phrase is “couldn’t care less”.

        • rrr
        • 7 years ago

        You suck, go die in a car fire.

        ^
        Response on the level of a previous post.

      • yogibbear
      • 7 years ago

      Wow! Thankyou man! I haven’t heard of duckduckgo until NOW! YES I AM FREEE!!!!! NO MORE PERSONALIZED SEARCH RESULTS!

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        There is a button on the right side to turn off personalized results.

        • lilbuddhaman
        • 7 years ago

        The question is, how does DuckDuckGo make their money?

          • l33t-g4m3r
          • 7 years ago

          [url<]https://duckduckgo.com/about.html[/url<] [url<]https://duckduckgo.com/privacy.html[/url<] [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DuckDuckGo[/url<] [quote<]DuckDuckGo was founded by Gabriel Weinberg, an entrepreneur whose last venture, The Names Database, was acquired by United Online in 2006 for $10 million.[4] Initially self-funded by Weinberg, DuckDuckGo is now occasionally advertising-supported.[5] The search engine is written in Perl and runs on nginx and FreeBSD[/quote<]

            • dmjifn
            • 7 years ago

            OK. I read their blurb about not tracking, etc.

            I have to admit, the story about the google engineer snooping into the accounts of (and contacting) 15 year olds is super creepy. Well intentioned or not. Ugh.

      • corwin155
      • 7 years ago

      do you really believe that everything you do on web isnt being looked at by someone someplace ?

        • ludi
        • 7 years ago

        Oh, it is:

        [url<]http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/[/url<]

      • Shambles
      • 7 years ago

      Checked out duckduckgo and it looks pretty neat. Keeping google as my websuite stuff but changing my search engine. Weird that searching with DDG with their HTML version ends up formatting differently than their default search page though.

      • mcnasty72@gmail.com
      • 7 years ago

      I am amazed how Americans willing give away their freedom to multinational corporations.
      I am with you, a customized internet is not what I’m looking for when I do a search. I expect to see all results none being “enhanced” for my enjoyment. As reported in the article “company have used this against other companies”. I used to wonder how could it be when I saw Americans ranked 31st in math & science but after living here and watching how you’re controlled by your government and their business partners I wonder no more.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 7 years ago

    I think its kind of funny that filing a takedown notice with Google is mostly useless. This is because the takedown form gets posted on chillingeffects.org with the URLs of the infringing content intact, creating a database of illicit links.

    It does take a while for these things to get processed and show up on the chilling effects website, so temporarily you cannot access the websites through google, but eventually the form will get posted.

    I am not sure if transparency trumps copyright protection or if the rights holders are just technology illiterate (probably the latter).

      • rika13
      • 7 years ago

      It is the lawmakers who are technologically illiterate due to old age and complete lack of concern for an issue that is not on the evening news, combined with phat “campaign contributions” from the MPAA and RIAA (I refuse to call them the MAFIAA as that is a slanderous remark toward hard-working criminals).

    • corwin155
    • 7 years ago

    so corporations will now flood websites with fake DMCA notices , i hope google will take into account when DMCA notices were filed

      • khands
      • 7 years ago

      If that were to happen they’ll probably just back out of the policy, it would become too expensive to uphold.

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      Hm…I’m not sure how that would go. Google has had some issues for some time with such notices and Youtube, where there has been some serious trouble on some users’ parts with false claims and fair use. One would hope that they take such claims with a [s<]grain of[/s<] salt truck.

      • jensend
      • 7 years ago

      Did you not read the article? It’s based on the number of [b<]valid[/b<] takedown notices. In other words, cases where Google has received a complaint, looked at it, and decided that the site in question was infringing. (Well, maybe "this is close enough to infringing that we aren't sure that the other side will either cave in or get slammed by a judge as being frivolous and be required to pay our court costs." But it's not just a free pass for any spurious takedown notice.) Generally I think this is likely to be a good thing. To have fewer warez sites, questionable file hosting sites with malicious popups, etc cluttering my search results is a Good Thing.

        • Geistbar
        • 7 years ago

        Actually, if you do some more searching you’ll find that it appears that Google’s definition of “valid takedown request” is not what you would expect. “Valid” in this case means that all of the forms were filled out properly. A valid takedown request isn’t one that had sufficient evidence to backup it’s claim: it’s one that spelled all the names properly.

        I originally thought it was what you said too.

    • C10 250
    • 7 years ago

    I don’t thing Google is caving to copyright holders any more than it is catering to a large portion of their users who don’t want their google littered with virus infested copyright infringing results.

      • yogibbear
      • 7 years ago

      “Download Miley Cyrus nude” -> gets legit link to twitter… *angry face*

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        why would you want to do that? After hearing her sing I lost all desire to see anything else. 😆

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<] after being married, twice her age, and a person who believes that chastity is not out of date, and is of the utmost importance to society, i lost all desire to see anything else. 😆 [/quote<] there, fixed that for you 😛

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            :p

        • ludi
        • 7 years ago

        Actually, it now gets a legit link to the TechReport.

        See what you did there?

          • derFunkenstein
          • 7 years ago

          SEO FTW!

      • jensend
      • 7 years ago

      Amen. Way too many cases where a fairly normal search means you’re trawling through pages of omgwarezuploadzzzz.com type results.

      • C10 250
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t mean to be misunderstood. The vast majority of my internet traffic is devoted to Bit Torrents. However I get all my trackers from dedicated private communities. Google is the last place I would go to search for a safe torrent tracker. It’s come to the point where even a search under the Shopping sub section returns with obvious fake results peppered in. I’m thrilled by this news if it means that when I search google priority is given to safe legitimate search results.

      I can only assume that the down votes on my opening comment are from people who’s idea of “Bootlegging” means they search google for the movie title they want and they click on the first megaupload or piratebay link that they see.

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