Last month, Google announced via the official Public Policy blog four changes to its copywright infringement-prevention policy. This was a response to the pressure by record labels, MPAA and RIAA on Google to censor search results. The recording industry consider Google as a major source of illegal downloads as torrent sites and other file-sharing services usually show up as top results on Google Search.
As the web has grown, we have seen a growing number of issues relating to infringing content. We respond expeditiously to requests to remove such content from our services, and have been improving our procedures over time. But as the web grows, and the number of requests grows with it, we are working to develop new ways to better address the underlying problem.
Here are the changes that Google made:
- Act on reliable copyright takedown requests within 24 hours.
- Prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete.
- Improve AdSense anti-piracy review.
- Experiment to make authorised preview content more readily accessible in search results.
A month after the announcement was made, Google has finally implemented the changes and are now filtering/censoring “piracy-related” terms or keywords from their “Autocomplete” and “Instant” services. Some of the censored keywords include BitTorrent, torrent, utorrent, RapidShare and Megaupload. If try and do a Google Search on any of the keywords listed above, you will notice that the autocomplete feature won’t work.
The weird thing about these new development is that it seems that censored keywords are not consistent in it’s goal to battle piracy. Why? Because as it turns out, not all “piracy-related” keywords are censored. The keywords for BitTorrent clients BitComet and Vuze as well as popular file sharing sites as 4shared,HotFile and MediaFire aren’t censored. Aside from that, popular torrent site The Pirate Bay is not also in the list of censored keywords.
Google only started to implement the changes the other day so maybe those “piracy-related” keywords that initially weren’t censored will eventually be added to the list in the coming days. These changes are both good and bad. Good because it helps fight piracy and lessens the spread of pirated media but at the same time bad because not all torrent files are bad. Many legitimate companies share and distribute “legal” content as torrent files. Btw, the keywords are only filtered/censored from autocomplete and instant results. They will still appear if you type in the complete term or keyword and hit search.
One thing I like about these new changes is that it also addresses plagiarism issues which will help bloggers who file for DMCA takedown requests. Google promises to build tools to improve the submission process and make it easier to file DMCA takedown requests. At the same time, average response time will be reduced to 24 hours or less.
With regards to blogging and piracy, Google has also promised to improve anti-piracy reviews on its popular contextual advertising publishing system – Adsense. Google has banned websites and blogs in the past who have been found to distribute pirated content but will now step up its efforts in identifying violations.
What’s your take on Google’s move to censor piracy-related keywords from its search tools? What are the pros and cons of this development? Please share your thoughts.