Google is changing its search results to emphasize the websites of repeat copyright offenders and make it easier to find legitimate providers of music, movies and other content.
Starting next week, Google will begin taking into account a new signal in its seaqrch rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices the company receives for any given site. Google says that sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in its 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," Google said in a blog post.
Google says it receives and processes more copyright removal notices every day than the company did in all of 2009 - more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone. The company will now be using this data as a signal in our search rankings.
Since only copyright holders know if something is authorized, Google said it would be removing any pages from search results unless it receives a valid copyright removal notice from the rights owner. The company will also continue to provide "counter-notice" tools so that those who believe their content has been wrongly removed can get it reinstated.
The move is a peace offering to Hollywood and the music recording labels. This year, Google joined other Silicon Valley heavyweights to help kill legislation that would have given government and content creators more power to shut down foreign websites that promote piracy.
The Recording Industry Association welcomed Google's move:
"This should result in improved rankings for the licensed music services that pay artists and deliver fans the music they love," said Cary Sherman, RIAA Chairman and CEO . "This change is an important step in the right direction - a step we've been urging Google to take for a long time - and we commend the company for its action."
The Re Picture Association of America issued a lukewarm response, saying it was "optimistic" the change would help steer consumers away from piracy.
"We will be watching this development closely - the devil is always in the details," MPAA senior executive president Michael O'Leary said in a statement.