Google Updates Its Search Algorithm: Will Start Punishing Sites With Too Many DMCA Takedown Notices

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Google just announced that, starting next week, its search algorithm will start taking a new signal into account: the number of valid copyright removal notices it receives for a given site. According to Google, “this ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily.” The idea here is obviously to punish pirate sites by pushing links to them down on Google’s search results pages and to appease copyright holders who often claim that Google doesn’t do enough to remove links to copyrighted material.

Since it started giving rights owners the ability to report potential copyright infringement in 2009, Google says, it’s been getting “much more data by copyright owners about infringing content online.” Just over the last 30 days, for example, it received copyright removal notices for more than 4.3 million URLs. That’s more than in all of 2009 together. Most of these notices in the last 30 days concerned content owned by RIAA members, followed by Microsoft, a group called Froytal Services Ltd. and NBC Universal.

In its announcement today, Google notes that users can always file “counter notices” when they believe their content was wrongly removed from its index. Google stresses that it won’t actually remove any pages from its search results unless it receives a valid copyright removal notice from the rights owner. Still, chances are that this update will push legitimate links to sites like filestube.com, downloads.nl and isohunt.com to the bottom of Google’s search results pages.