Google ramps up online piracy fight

Google is to make major changes to the way it deals with copyright infringement on its search engine in the coming months, aimed at making it tougher for websites that flaunt the law and making it harder to find pirated content.

Noting that there are more than one trillion unique URLs on the Web and more than 35 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, said that services unimaginable ten years ago — iTunes, NetFlix, YouTube, and many others – helped access this content and let traditional and emerging creators profit from and share their work with the world.

“But along with this new wave of creators come some bad apples who use the Internet to infringe copyright,” he warned in a blog post. “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.”

He outlined four steps that Google would be taking over the coming months. “We’ll act on reliable copyright takedown requests within 24 hours. We will build tools to improve the submission process to make it easier for rightsholders to submit DMCA takedown requests for Google products (starting with Blogger and web Search). And for copyright owners who use the tools responsibly, we’ll reduce our average response time to 24 hours or less. At the same time, we’ll improve our ‘counter-notice’ tools for those who believe their content was wrongly removed and enable public searching of takedown requests.”

Secondly, Google would also prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete. “While it’s hard to know for sure when search terms are being used to find infringing content, we’ll do our best to prevent Autocomplete from displaying the terms most frequently used for that purpose,” he admitted.

Google would also improve its AdSense anti-piracy review. “We have always prohibited the use of our AdSense program on web pages that provide infringing materials. Building on our existing DMCA takedown procedures, we will be working with rightsholders to identify, and, when appropriate, expel violators from the AdSense program.”

Walker said that Google would also experiment with making authorised preview content more readily accessible in search results. “Not surprisingly, we’re big fans of making authorised content more accessible on the Internet. Most users want to access legitimate content and are interested in sites that make that content available to them (even if only on a preview basis). We’ll be looking at ways to make this content easier to index and find,” he promised.

“These changes build on our continuing efforts, such as Content ID, to give rightsholders choice and control over the use of their content, and we look forward to further refining and improving our processes in ways that help both rightsholders and users,” he concluded.