By Alexandra Burlacu | Aug 11, 2012 01:47 PM EDT
Big media companies fighting online piracy received support from Google on Friday, Aug. 10. In a company blog post, Google said it will use its search algorithms, which determine how Web sites are ranked in search results, to downrank sites with too many piracy complaints from copyright owners.
"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," reads the company blog post. "Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results."
Google's move to downrank sites with many copyright complaints against them is one of the most significant anti-piracy measures the search giant has ever taken. Most people around the world conduct their Web searches through Google's popular search engine, so this move carries significant weight. During the past couple of years, Google has made increasing concessions to copyright owners, who have demanded the search giant adopt more drastic measures to prevent its search engine from aiding copyright infringement.
In the blog post on Friday, Google indicated the change aims not to turn the company into a copyright watchdog, but to help fight unauthorized sources of music, movies, and other digital media.
"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," reads the blog post. "Since we re-booted our copyright removals over two years ago, we've been given much more data by copyright owners about infringing content online. In fact, we're now receiving and processing more copyright removal notices every day than we did in all of 2009 - more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone. We will now be using this data as a signal in our search rankings."
Copyright owners have previously pushed for Google to block sites even accused of piracy from its search results. While this new measure is not so drastic, it ventures closer to those demands.
"Today Google has announced a potentially significant change in its search rankings that can make a meaningful difference to creators," noted Cary Sherman, the CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group for the four top music labels.
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