Websites with takedown notices are pushed down in Google Search
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 by EDRi.
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)