Google Says DMCA Violations Now Impact Rankings

In a long overdue change, Google has modified its ranking algorithm to take into account copyright complaints received by its overworked DMCA agent. If Google gets multiple copyright complaints regarding a site, Google will now drop the site in the rankings.

This development is a significant bit of news. Content creators now have even more reason to go after swine that copy their information. I am not referring to situations where there is a legitimate question as to whether a copyright violation exists. Instead, I am talking about sites that scrape content and republish it. This technique is about to become much less effective if copyright holders stay on top of their content.

Here is the blog post announcing the change from Google.

An update to our search algorithms
8/10/12 | 10:30:00 AM

We aim to provide a great experience for our users and have developed over 200 signals to ensure our search algorithms deliver the best possible results. Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results. 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. 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. 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. And we’ll continue to provide “counter-notice” tools so that those who believe their content has been wrongly removed can get it reinstated. We’ll also continue to be transparent about copyright removals.

Posted by Amit Singhal, SVP, Engineering

This is one area where I applaud Google for making an algorithm change. It is nice to see content creators be rewarded for their work. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a site ranked above you that uses some of your content.

This problem should become less prevalent now.

Richard A. Chapo, Esq.