Google announced a new change to its search algorithm today. Starting next week, the search engine will begin taking into account the number of valid copyright removal notices in rankings.
That is the number of valid notices Google receives itself. This should get interesting.
"Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results," says Google SVP, Engineering, Amit Singhal. "This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily—whether it’s a song previewed on NPR’s music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify."
"Since we re-booted our copyright removals over two years ago, we’ve been given much more data by copyright owners about infringing content online," Singhal adds. "In fact, we’re now receiving and processing more copyright removal notices every day than we did in all of 2009—more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone. We will now be using this data as a signal in our search rankings."
"Only copyright holders know if something is authorized, and only courts can decide if a copyright has been infringed; Google cannot determine whether a particular webpage does or does not violate copyright law," Singhal notes. "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."
Google says it will continue to provide "counter notice" tools that people can use, when they believe their content has been wrongfully removed, so they can get it reinstated.
More reconsideration request-like things to file. Why do I get the feeling that fair use is going to be challenged more than ever?
Google says it will continue to be transparent about copyright removals. Speaking of transparency, Google was putting out monthly lists of algorithm changes in an effort to be more transparent, but seems to have fallen behind on that, despite the occasional one-off announcement such as this one.