Google announced on Friday that it will begin downranking websites that receive high volumes of valid copyright infringement notices. Google is taking these actions in an effort to help users find legitimate content. For example, if you’re searching for a TV show, Google wants its search results to direct you to an authorized media license holder such as Hulu or Amazon, instead of illegal torrent sites.
In the past, media publishers have accused Google of allowing piracy, and have noted its opposition to anti-piracy acts such as SOPA and PIPA. Reading between the lines, Google could possibly be taking these new steps to gain favor with media publishers that have a potential influence over the success of the company’s media-heavy Google Play Store.
Since revamping its copyright removal process two years ago, Google says that it’s received “much more” data from copyright owners detailing the use of unauthorized content. The company is currently processing more copyright removal notices daily than it did for the entire year of 2009— and said that it has processed more than 4.3 million URL requests in the past 30 days.
Google notes that “only copyright holders know if something is authorized” and that it “cannot determine whether a particular webpage does or does not violate copyright law.”
The search giant specifies that its new policy will not remove sites from search results and that it will only impact rankings. In order for an offending site to be removed, Google must receive a valid copyright removal notice and notes that accused sites have the right to submit a counter-notice.
In May, Google added a copyright section to its Transparency Report, which details URL removal requests for the past 30 days. The current top three offenders listed in Google’s report are filestube.com (284,928 URLs), downloads.nl (107,845 URLs) and isohunt.com (104,903 URLs). However, these statistics could drastically change when Google’s new ranking policy goes live next week.