Googling for illegal access to movies or music? Starting today, those links will begin to slip down the results list. The search giant has revamped its algorithm to take into account complaints about copyright infringement.
In a blog post on Friday, Google explained that, among the 200 signals it uses to rank pages, the search engine will start factoring in “valid copyright removal notices” and said that sites with lots of them “may appear lower in our results.”
At first, it wasn’t clear whether Google would give special treatment to its own sites, such as Blogger and YouTube, both of which are known to host (or at least link to) copyrighted material like music and movies and are subject to their own internal copyright claim procedures. As it turns out, those sites aren’t exempt from the algorithmic adjustment, but are unlikely to be affected by it, since Google uses so many other signals when weighing a given site’s rank.
The change marks the most significant move made by Google yet in its quest to boost its standing among big content companies and copyright holders. For years, Google has been viewed suspiciously by record labels, movie studios, television networks, and book and periodical publishers, who criticize the company’s role in facilitating copyright infringement. Google, the gateway to the entire Web for millions of users, does its best to index every page on the Internet, including content that may be objectionable or even illegal.
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