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Google Piracy

Google To Start Punishing Pirate Sites In Search Results 294

Posted by Soulskill
from the arrrr-me-hearties dept.
An anonymous reader sends word of a change Google will be making to its search algorithms. Beginning next week, the company will penalize the search rankings of websites who are the target of many copyright infringement notices from rightsholders. Quoting The Verge: "Google says the move is designed to 'help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily' — meaning that it's trying to direct people who search for movies, TV shows, and music to sites like Hulu and Spotify, not torrent sites or data lockers like the infamous MegaUpload. It's a clear concession to the movie and music industries, who have long complained that Google facilitates piracy — and Google needs to curry favor with media companies as it tries to build an ecosystem around Google Play. Google says it feels confident making the change because because its existing copyright infringement reporting system generates a massive amount of data about which sites are most frequently reported — the company received and processed over 4.3 million URL removal requests in the past 30 days alone, more than all of 2009 combined. Importantly, Google says the search tweaks will not remove sites from search results entirely, just rank them lower in listings."
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Google To Start Punishing Pirate Sites In Search Results

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  • by jjeffries (17675) on Friday August 10, 2012 @05:23PM (#40951653)

    So no more YouTube search results in Google, then?

    • YouTube has deals with most of the copyright holders, and infringing stuff is either pulled or gets ads put on it.
      • Agreed, however it's still one of the leading sites on the internet when it comes to takedown notices I'd imagine. "Goodbye YouTube" was pretty much my first (ironic) thought when I read this title. And, of course, we're now going to see plenty of takedown notices being made by Fox against the BBC and vice versa (for example) just to hit the competition's page rank.
      • by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:04PM (#40952097)

        YouTube is full of pirated material nowadays, and it gets put back up as fast as it comes down, even with their automated systems. Here's a long list:

        http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%22full+movie%22 [youtube.com]

        About 13,200,000 results, of which the vast majority are not there with copyright holder's permission. As to the adverts, those are making money for Google, not for the copyright holders, which is why they don't really care if the situation continues.

        It's interesting to see just how sociopathic Google is becoming now that they are in a position of dominance, and have grown to be a large company. What's interesting about Google's position now is that because they dominate search, and yet make money from ads, the less effective the search is at finding things the better for them - it means they sell more ads to sites desperate to rank well again.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:50PM (#40952585)

          My annoyance with Google & Youtube is now they eliminated "search video" as an option. It's "search youtube" which is annoying when I'm specifically trying to find Non-youtube video sites like vimeo or hulu or redtube.

          http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%22full+movie%22 [youtube.com] Thanks! You gave me something to watch this weekend. Of course the reality is many of those "full movies" are just 5 minute videos telling users to go visit some website (usually non-functional). Some of those "full movies" ask for a credit card when you try to watch them & therefore are legitimate/legal (for example American Reunion). That leaves very few actual pirated movies on youtube.

        • by cavebison (1107959) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @01:32AM (#40962319)

          It's interesting to see just how sociopathic Google is becoming now that they are in a position of dominance

          Every public company is required, by law, to behave like a sociopath.

          It's not Google's or any other company's fault. It is commercial law. Shareholders' interests come first.

          People shouldn't waste their breath criticising Apple etc. for using slave labour in other countries. It's good for the shareholders, for the bottom line, so it is done. To decide NOT to take those opportunities - or to attempt to patent the rectangle, or spend millions on influencing politics - is reason for a CEO to be dropped. Another will be chosen - by shareholders - who doesn't mind behaving unethically.

          If you want to blame something, blame the law. Blame the system of share trading, which rewards *any* behaviour that increases share value. Blame Joe Public for day trading and investing in companies that behave unethically (ie. most of them).

          What's the point in blaming *the company itself* when it's only doing what it's programmed to do?

          This is, of course, why companies are not "people". People make ethical decisions every day. A company behaves according to pre-determined rules, like an amoeba. I was going to say an animal, but animal behaviour is far more complex than company behaviour.

      • YouTube has deals with most of the copyright holders, and infringing stuff is either pulled or gets ads put on it.

        On the other hand if another website had similar deals Google would still most likely mod that website down giving Google an unfair advantage. They are setting themselves up as a sort of a gate watcher and I cannot help but wonder how quickly that will backfire.

  • Wow. Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday August 10, 2012 @05:28PM (#40951715)

    This has "BAD IDEA" written all over it. Google is going to tweak their ranking based on how many URL removal notices it has received? I smell both a new skill being marketed by SEOs, a new strategy employed by scummy companies to up their ranking, and just a total nightmare for anyone trying to compete with the big content boys. Start making real inroads in content delivery? Get hit by automated takedown notices brought by more-or-less acknowledged affiliates of big content, and watch your Google ranking drop. Maybe this will signal the recurrence of search engines like dogpile.

    • Re:Wow. Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Blue Stone (582566) on Friday August 10, 2012 @05:33PM (#40951781) Homepage Journal

      Getting into the content business will be the death of Google as an honest broker of information.

      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday August 10, 2012 @05:49PM (#40951943) Homepage Journal

        Google... an honest broker of information.

        Thanks for the chuckle!

      • Re:Wow. Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:20PM (#40952261)

        ... will be the death of Google as an honest broker of information.

        They ceased being an honest broker when they filed their IPO. Look at Facebook; It went from an amazingly simple and useful website to a horribly bloated content platform that most of its users' dislike but can't quit it because all their friends are on it. Google has become like that: Everybody uses google services, but not because they're better, just that they're popular.

        A lot of this crap is due to centralization; ICANN screwing up the DNS namespace in order to turn a buck, the UN screaming at them to give up control and all the politics that goes into that... Google becoming the de facto search engine, and then all the gaming of the system and inevitable government control over it (searching for certain terms while logged in, or sent from your IP address that you were previously logged in from can get you on a watch list now), etc. It seems that the moment a utility service online tries to 'monetize', it turns to shit.

        It's clear that Google is reaching the end of its useful life as a search engine; It only continues to command marketshare now because of momentum and a lack of alternatives, not because it is innovative, efficient, or fair.

        I imagine that in the not too distant future, someone will design a P2P content distribution network with onion routing and encryption similar to Tor, but capable of decentralized information storage similar to Freenet, we'll be a lot closer to seeing this business model going out of business.

        On top of such a network, one would need to build a namespace resolution service; I would suggest it be based on geopolitical boundaries, followed by function, then unique name, but the organizational scheme doesn't matter as long as it is consistent and easy to navigate and update. Each sovereign entity would register its own key with the root service, and after that, they can do what they want... rather than ICANN, you'd have something more like international waters -- you can fly under any flag you want. Otherwise, have a .default namespace for services that do not want to fly a flag (pirates? Yarr!) ... The rest of the technical details I'm sure you can fill in.

        After those two steps are done, the last would be an indexing service. Google had the right idea; The number of links to a given webpage is a good initial indicator of its value, with some massaging of the data to remove auto-generated pages, etc. But as an alternative to Google's bogosort method, I'd suggest a trust network; If A visits a lot of the same sites as B, then there's a reasonable chance that if B ranks a site positively, A will like it too, so give it a bump in the ratings. Do this enough and clusters of users will emerge automatically on the network. If you rate something badly, then the system lowers the implicit trust level. You can also explicitly trust certain identities, like friends or whatever... similar to how Slashdot has 'friends' and 'foes', but a bit more refined. That trust data doesn't have to be exchanged; After the search results are downloaded, the client would resort the data before pushing it up to the application.

        I believe many people would happily trade a few extra seconds of search time and a higher bandwidth cost to use a search engine that was truly 'neutral' algorithmically, and used a trust network for rankings instead of Google's bogosort method. Obviously, my implimentation will have some problems, as any other pre-prototype idea would, but I think what I've described is useful enough as a starting point to thinking of a return to the roots of the internet; We've gotten trapped into thinking of everything as a client/server model, or as content platforms, and all making little islands out of our content. The web wasn't designed this way; It was explicitly designed to allow you to see an image on another person's website, and then link it on your own page. Copyright law screwed that u

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          >>>Google has become like that: Everybody uses google services, but not because they're better, just that they're popular.

          No. Except for youtube I rarely use google.

          >>>A lot of this crap is due to centralization; ICANN screwing up the DNS namespace in order to turn a buck, the UN screaming at them to give up control and all the politics that goes into that... Google becoming the de facto search engine
          >>>
          Or you could just change the default in your browser. My IE at work defaults

          • Or you could just change the default in your browser. My IE at work defaults to bing, and my Opera & Chromium browsers default to operasearch and duckduckgo respectively.

            That doesn't really solve the problem; the data is still sent in plain-text, and websites can still be taken down or blocked extrajudicially. What I'm proposing would allow governments to exert a level of control over sites located within their borders, and only those within their borders, while allowing international access to continue without interference from those countries.

    • by Aguazul2 (2591049)
      Agree absolutely -- they received "4.3 million URL removal requests in the past 30 days alone". I'm sure an army of bots can increase this by a few orders of magnitude as soon as they realize they've got a lever into the pagerank algorithm. Sounds like the end of Google being any use for anything. What are we left with ... Bing!?
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Time to submit some bulk takedowns for sonymusic.com, universal.com etc. It's the new Google bomb.

  • by Tei (520358) on Friday August 10, 2012 @05:29PM (#40951717) Journal

    If a search engine abandon neutrality this way. Then why not avoid violent sites? porn sites? sites with bad spelling? sites that are not political correct? where is the line here?. You must have a line, that you will never cross, because some people will push you more and more.

    • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Friday August 10, 2012 @05:30PM (#40951739) Homepage

      If a search engine abandon neutrality this way. Then why not avoid violent sites? porn sites? sites with bad spelling? sites that are not political correct? where is the line here?. You must have a line, that you will never cross, because some people will push you more and more.

      Worse than that, by doing this, they're showing, legally, that they CAN do this. Which means the next time some RIAA shitwaffle decides to Google for their latest "Generic Movie Content" blockbuster and finds it, welp, that means it's Google's fault now...

      • Worse than that, by doing this, they're showing, legally, that they CAN do this. Which means the next time some RIAA shitwaffle decides to Google for their latest "Generic Movie Content" blockbuster and finds it, welp, that means it's Google's fault now...

        No it doesn't.

        I think it is a terrible idea and all that, but you are arguing about something else than what is happening here. All google is doing is including the number of DMCA notices they have received for a specific website to their pagerank algorithm. They aren't identifying anything other than how many times they've received official complaints. They certainly aren't picking and choosing "legitimate" files.

    • by godrik (1287354) on Friday August 10, 2012 @05:42PM (#40951875)

      "Then why not avoid [...] sites with bad spelling?"

      That one actually sounds like a good idea ! :)

      • by Trepidity (597)

        I wouldn't be surprised if they already employ some version of that, at least in some contexts. They include all sorts of non-public "content quality" signals nowadays; it's no longer primarily based on the link graph like it was in the PageRank days.

      • by hajus (990255)

        Id actually go for this. I think what they should do is let the users select certain options that they want to use as factors for deranking. Spelling, slow load times, too many big words, etc. I don't think it would work for lowering the ranks of pirate sites though.

    • by The Mighty Buzzard (878441) on Friday August 10, 2012 @05:44PM (#40951889)
      I get what you mean but what you mean does not include the word "neutral". Every search engine algorithm is based on the premise of promoting some content and lowering other so that the users can better find what they want. There is nothing even a little bit neutral about that. Neutral would be taking all matching search results and running them through a randomizing algorithm.
    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      Then why not avoid violent sites? porn sites?

      depends, how much are they willing to pay to get a good ranking back? Gun's are a profitable business, so they're probably safe. Profitable porn purveyors are probably safe.

      Bad spellers, well... that's everyone. So that shouldn't be a problem.

      political correct

      I suspect this happens already around election time in the US. Campaigns will pay to have their results over top of the other guy, he who has the most money available wins sort of thing. In this they are competing with (relatively) neutral parties who are trying t

    • by tlambert (566799) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:18PM (#40952231)

      Here's the high points from the blog posting:

      (1) It's going to be added to the list of over 200 signals, whic meands that if they were equally weighted and there were exactly 200 of them, you are talking about a 0.5% difference in ranking

      (2) It may reduce where it appears in the results (read this as: it will not remove it from the results).

      Google dropping something from search results because of some editorial policy would make them legally liable when something bad gets through anyway (check out the disclaimers on the "safe search" setting). And given the general bent, they are doubly unlikely to do anything simply to make RIAA/MPAA happier about what's generally acknowledged to be an obsolete business model.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      They will go there too, dont worry. They have to start somewhere, the Sith was not created overnight either.

      The *only* line will be profit. Which is too bad, as they were making quite a bit of money and still trying to do the right thing. I guess greed has taken over.

    • by Artifakt (700173)

      Google abandoned neutrality for porn sites long ago. To see this, try typing a porn move term or an actor's or actress's name, and watch what auto-suggest does. For example, Typing Sasha Gray will get you suggestions until the letter "r" Even though some of those suggestions will be other names with "r" in that place, when you get to the "r", the auto-suggest will stop trying to complete rather than suggest "Sasha Gray". I found this out because apparently a seventies porn starlette became a doctor later,

  • site:thepiratebay.se (Score:5, Informative)

    by J'raxis (248192) on Friday August 10, 2012 @05:29PM (#40951725) Homepage

    Include "site:thepiratebay.se" or similar in your search query. You can even create a Firefox bookmark like this:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=site:thepiratebay.se%20%s&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&safe=off

    Give it a keyword (e.g., "tpb") and then when you type in the URL bar:

    tpb FOO

    Firefox will search for "FOO" at thepiratebay.se. Problem solved.

    • Does Firefox have its own search engine? It would be great for them to set one up in competition with Google, turnabout is fair play after all, but I fear Google paying them so much money might put the kibosh on that. A fully fledged open source search engine with a behemoth like Firefox behind it, now that would be something to behold.

  • Amusingly, it might stick the pirates bay somewhere WAY down on the rankings, basically making it "unsearchable" directly. But, sites that link to the pirates bay and talk about how it's a wretched hive of scum and villainy will be riding right on top of the rankings.

  • by newcastlejon (1483695) on Friday August 10, 2012 @05:36PM (#40951801)

    Google will also start punishing site owners who make false claims.

  • So, Google is finally tired of waiting for Bing to catch up (or they just feel so sorry for their miserable attempts at getting a market share) so they will try to screw up their own searches instead to give competitors a chance?
    Google, how about you try to weed out the useless full of ads pages with fake/copy-pasted content that get top placements in the results instead of trying to be copyright police? With the search result quality decreasing dangerously the last few years, these kinds of algorithm tweak

  • So they'll punish pirate sites but how do we know that's it? Even if it is just pirate sites now, we can pretty much assume it'll be something else next.
  • by Gutboy (587531) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:01PM (#40952057)
    1) Form shell company
    2) Have shell company send take down notices about my competitors website
    3) Watch them vanish from the search results
    4) Profit!
  • Take Hulu. They pollute global search rankings by pretending to host movies, then refuse to serve any content because you're not in the US. Google, in turn, pretends to serve results that are relevant to your location - and still give back tons of Hulu results regardless of where you are.

  • If I just search for the name of a song or something, chances are I -am- looking for a legitimate source like youtube. If I want a torrent, I'll just append "torrent" to the end of the search. Or, you know, search on a dedicated torrent-searching site instead of google, cause that often works better anyway.

    • by neminem (561346)

      Side-note: most of the hits you get when you try to google for illegal media of that variety, are usually fake sites that either want you to pay (most likely for nothing anyway, even if you did), or are just making money off ad hits. And when you do get a file-locker site, most of the time it's expired. So screw them anyway, they mostly deserve to be downranked in listings.

  • Let's call it what it is. Google is accepting payment from big media, in the form of reduced media licensing costs, to rank big media sites higher. While still claiming to not accept payment for ranking.

  • The most-targeted domains? filestube.com, downloads.nl, isohunt.com, and torrenthound.com.

    Two search engines and two torrent sites that don't host any files?
    Is that what the DMCA is supposed to be used for?

    Isohunt has put up a post discussing the matter [isohunt.com]

    What's missing on Google's DMCA notices report? Youtube. The by far largest video content website in the world ought to have very high volume of DMCA notices, if not the most, and it's inconspicuously missing from the list. To downrank and censor any website that's not Google's that receives a high number of DMCA notices? Sounds exactly like antitrust to me.

    Despite his lack of proofreading, he manages to make several other valid points.

  • The new paternalism (Score:2, Interesting)

    by guanxi (216397)

    Authorities such as major companies and governments have adopted a new paternalism: They know what is best for you, and will do it without your consent and often with transparency.

    Consider the greatly diminished respect for privacy (e.g., the tracking and monitoring by government and corporations alike), for end-user control (authorities decide what software you can install, whether and when it updates, what websites you can visit, what files you can store, etc.).

    From Apple to government, they claim it prov

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:21PM (#40952271) Homepage Journal

    The logical destination is evil. Just ask Anakin.

    Google can either stay agnostic, or will become just as bad as the rest and will be tossed aside at some point in the not to distant future.

  • Social policies implemented with technology. They haven't learned, and continue to refuse to.

    The blowback from this will probably be the eventual destruction of Google itself.

  • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:33PM (#40952409) Homepage

    I'd be really happy to use Hulu or get the same content on Netflix as US users but due to an artificial restriction I am unable to. I don't want to have to pay for a proxy or VPN I want to get the same content that is available to US users (and Canadians?). I speak the same language and I have money. Feel free to offer me a product and you can have some of that money.

  • Google still does search ? I had forgotten.

  • Now I will have trouble finding Youtube! They have so many complaints about pirated material. Help! ;-)
  • by rastoboy29 (807168) on Friday August 10, 2012 @07:50PM (#40953143) Homepage
    What I really wonder is why they are abandoning the idea of giving searchers what they want.

    They were really good at that for a while, you know--it's what helped them get their current status.

    Oh well, there's always Duck Duck Go.
  • "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it"

    If people want that info, they will not use Google to find it. If Google wants these people to search through them, they will change their way.

    Off course ... Google has always participated in the filter bubble [ted.com], so this seems part of that

  • by metrometro (1092237) on Friday August 10, 2012 @10:05PM (#40954045)

    Oh great. SEO has always been a magnet for black hat web spammers. But that was always, always traceable back to the black hat site in question. Call it "defensive SEO". But now? The actions of unknown third parties can trash a sites ratings -- offensive SEO. And how long will it be before botnet for hire offers to destroy your competitors in way which is essentially impossible to trace. Because SEO is absolutely that petty and specific. The opportunity to harm a competitors Google rating is, for many, too good to pass up.

    Fuck fuck fuck fuck I do not want to have to deal with that.

  • by cpghost (719344) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @08:45AM (#40956323) Homepage
    Here's an idea: what's preventing us from writing a Firefox plugin that auto-indexes all sites that we visit (except when in privacy mode -- or perhaps only when in a new discovery mode?)? This local index will then be shared with other machines running the same plugin and virtually combined into a big global index. Since there's no site that won't be one day visited with such a search-enabled browser, the index will likely cover most of the Internet. This way, we get rid of Google and other centralized search engines; and therefore get rid of corporate censorship.
  • by fafaforza (248976) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @10:09AM (#40956823)

    Linking this to big media is so easy, it's automatic.

    But many times when I did search for some piece of media, I would get nothing but torrent links on the first or even second page, where in reality I was looking for any interesting sites that would talk about the plot of a movie I didn't quite "get". They do have a point in that torrent sites preempt everything else in many situations, and they have an interest in protecting the main functionality of their site, which is finding people relevant info.

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