In May, Google announced that it was adding a new page on its Transparency Report site called Copyright Removal Requests. The page showed which companies were asking Google to remove search results for certain websites. Now it looks like Google is doing more to try to stop those websites from appearing in its search results.
In a new post on the Google Search blog, the company announced that starting next week, it would begin to rank websites based on the number of copyright removal notices that Google believes to be valid. The blog stated that those sites that receive a high amount of removal notices could be ranked lower in Google's search results.
Google said that the numbers of copyright removal notices it receives continues to increase, and points out that it has received requests to take down over 4.3 million separate URLs from its search results in the last 30 days. It added:
So while this new signal will influence the ranking of some search results, we won’t be removing any pages from search results unless we receive a valid copyright removal notice from the rights owner. And we’ll continue to provide "counter-notice" tools so that those who believe their content has been wrongly removed can get it reinstated. We’ll also continue to be transparent about copyright removals.
The argument that search engines such as Google's could be gateways for users to get pirated content was one of the main bullet points of supporters of SOPA and PIPA. The Motion Picture Association of America, one of the main backers of SOPA, issued its own statement about Google's search changes today:
We are optimistic that Google’s actions will help steer consumers to the myriad legitimate ways for them to access movies and TV shows online, and away from the rogue cyberlockers, peer-to-peer sites, and other outlaw enterprises that steal the hard work of creators across the globe. We will be watching this development closely – the devil is always in the details – and look forward to Google taking further steps to ensure that its services favor legitimate businesses and creators, not thieves
Source: Google Search blog