Google Acknowledges the Piracy Problem
A few weeks ago those of us who have been long concerned about the problem of online piracy got a pleasant surprise: Google announced that it would begin penalizing sites that host pirated materials by building into their algorithm a penalty for valid takedown requests.
In other words, if a particular site becomes "known" to Google's algorithm as generating a high number of valid takedown requests, Google says the site will be lowered in Google's search results.
IPI commends Google for this announced change in policy, and we'd like to see the other search engines take similar steps.
Google's announced new policy is rational and responsible. Copyright piracy is criminal activity, and corporate citizenship at the very least demands that companies are not "neutral" with regard to criminal activity. Penalizing websites in terms relative to their infringing traffic is a logical first (if minimal) step in a responsible approach to online piracy.
Piracy is a huge problem to content creators, and a major part of that creative activity takes place in the United States, creating jobs here and paying taxes here. Making a marginal dent in online piracy would clearly have a positive economic impact on our economy, as IPI's significant work in this area has suggested.
How much difference Google's announced policy will actually make will be interesting to watch. And, of course, much more needs to be done to combat online piracy. Huge amounts of money are being made exploiting online piracy for criminal purposes. During the SOPA debate Google acknowledged the legitimacy of "going after the money" as a strategy for combatting online piracy. Payment processors and advertising networks, including Google's own, should commit to no longer cooperating with pirate websites.
But it's noteworthy and helpful that Google has acknowledged that their search engine is a legitimate means of combatting piracy, and also that 97% of takedown notices they receive are valid.
Google's announcement is a commendable step in the right direction. We hope it's effectively implemented, and we hope that it's a first in many voluntary, cooperative steps the Internet industry takes in combatting online piracy, which will result in a healthier Internet ecosystem for all.
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