For the longest time, the media industry has lobbied Google to censor its search results in favor of "legitimate" Web sites. Google gave in a little last year when it introduced a new ranking signal that puts pirated content lower on the search results page. Now Google may be working towards a new, more radical, way of removing pirated content from the net.
The Telegraph reports that Google is now working on a plan that would hit pirate sites where it hurts - their wallets. The search giant would work with payment companies to block funds from going to sites that collect fees or donations in return for access to pirated content. The hope is that blocking funds to these sites will hurt them far worse than Google censoring its results. In that way, Google's search results can stay neutral and the media industry can kill off pirate sites.
Blocking funds from reaching certain Web sites is a slippery slope, however, and it's reported that Google is a little concerned. The company reportedly fears that the big media players could use such a ploy to block funds from reaching smaller, yet legitimate, competitors.
Despite these concerns, it's reported that Google is working with businesses to have something in place by Spring. Media companies would definitely want to have something out sooner than later, but hopefully Google will take its time to ensure this newest ploy doesn't cause any collateral damage.
It should be noted that this plan may never actually see the light of day. Google and the media industry may not be able to reach an agreement that's satisfactory for both parties. Heck, it may already be dead, and rumors of its existence may just finally be reaching the press.
Regardless, we've reached out to Google for comment on the matter, and will update if, and when, we hear back.