Google Touts Anti-Piracy Efforts in New Report

Web giant says it has improved the process to downrank sites that have been flagged as illicitly hosting copyrighted material.

On Friday, Google released its second annual report on efforts the web giant is making on the piracy front.

The report can be read below, and while we'll let others judge the success of programs like the ContentID program for YouTube, we'll take a moment to highlight page 18 — "Using Copyright Notices in Ranking."

Google has been connecting takedown notices to search results for two years now, but in its latest report, it states, "In October 2014, we have improved and refined the DMCA demotion signal in search results, increasing the effectiveness of just one tool rightsholders have at their disposal."

Translated, it means that when copyright holders send demands over copyrighted content, Google has an algorithm that pushes sites that have been flagged for a great amount of piracy down the rankings of its search results.  The takedown notices are also said to have an impact on the autocomplete search function too. Google believes it has now improved the process and algorithm, and from what we've been told in interviews, it has been communicating this to Hollywood studios and record companies.

The point we'd like to make about this — one executives at Google will acknowledge — is that the web giant is encouraging more DMCA notices, which is something to be mindful of the next time there's a discussion about what a rise in takedown notices represents. It's possible that more DMCA takedown notices has little to do with aggression on the part of copyright holders or even the amount of piracy out there, but rather Google's effort to essentially train big studios in the art of "SED" — or Search Engine De-Optimization.

What's in it for Google? If a piracy site gets off the radar, Google hopes it won't have to keep on responding to takedown notices for that site.

It might not be enough to convince everyone — like the celebrities who are threatening a $100 million lawsuit over allegedly facilitating the posting of hacked stolen images — but it's worth watching anyway.

"Everyone shares a responsibility to help curb unlawful conduct online, and we are glad to see Google acknowledging its role in facilitating access to stolen content via search," says MPAA spokesperson Kate Bedingfield. "We look forward to examining the results of Google's algorithm changes to see if they reduce the appearance in search results of stolen content and the sites that profit from it."

Twitter: @eriqgardner

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