Pirate Update 2014 For DMCAGoogle is reportedly launched a new stricter update (Google Pirate Update 2014) to fight against the most notorious pirate sites for copyright violations.

Search engine giant Google said that they have now refined the signal in ways that they expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites.

It’s also extending this system to demoting auto-complete predictions that return results with many USA’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) demoted sites.

After receiving criticism that it was not working hard enough to fight piracy, Google released a Pirate Update in the month of August, 2012. This system provided penalties for sites that violated copyright laws. The week after this, Google is going to issue a new update to change the system and make it more efficient for catching offenders while releasing those who have given up piracy.

Has someone filed a large number of DMCA “takedown” requests against your site? If so, look out. There’s a new penalty that may cause you to rank lower in Google’s search results. It joins other penalties (also called “filters” or “updates”) such as “Panda” and “Penguin.” We’re dubbing this one the “Pirate Update” as it’s aimed at copyright piracy.

More About The Pirate Update

This update is like the other Google updates such as Panda and Penguin which work as filters. The search engine company processes these sites which are known about through the Pirate filter and downgrades sites which are promoting piracy and violating copyright laws.

Those caught by this filter receive the downgrade till the next time it is run. If they have stopped piracy on their site at that point in time, Google may release them from the downgrade. The manner in which this exactly works is not known as a Pirate Update filter has never been run.

As the Pirate update was never rerun, those who might have violated Piracy laws may have escaped unscathed. New violators were therefore not caught by the system.

System Under Attack

Google’s system of detecting online piracy is now being attacked, even leading to a verbal spat between News Corp and Google. Google has said its Pirate filter has done much to eradicate piracy. But Google has been criticized for never announcing a new run of the Pirate filter for over 2 years now.

The Pirate Penalty

That leads back to the name. Reacting to complaints about content farms and poor quality content clogging its search results, Google released the Panda Update in February 2012. Periodically, it is run (on a roughly monthly basis) to decide if there is new content that should be penalized or poor sites that have improved.

This year, in April, Google released the Penguin Update, another filter. This one also runs periodically and is especially designed to go after sites that overtly spam Google.

Google hasn’t given the coming DMCA-based update a name. It doesn’t always name its updates and filters, and I’m sure it won’t in this case. So, we’ve taken the lead.

Google might argue, as it has done with Penguin, that Pirate isn’t even a penalty at all but rather an “adjustment.” The sites hit by Pirate won’t be penalized. They just won’t be as rewarded when the new system kicks in.

Adjustment or not, my guess is that it will feel like a penalty to the sites hit. They’ll drop from the first page of search results and effectively be invisible. Chances are (I’m checking on this, this will be a signal that’s periodically checked, so that if a site seems to have received fewer requests over time, it might see its rankings get restored.

Detecting Pirates

But as it turns out, there is a way that Google can guestimate if there’s copyright infringement happening, by making use of Digital Millennium Copyright Act “takedown” requests.

These requests are one of the ways to get content removed from Google. Anyone can file a request. It’s not proof of copyright infringement. It’s merely an allegation, and one that can be challenged. But Google evaluates each request, and if deemed valid, content is removed.

The requests are a pain to file, and they only remove an individual web page. If you’re a big entertainment company, it’s like playing Whac-A-Mole. But now, Google’s shift will change the game from a page-by-page basis to a site-by-site one. Beginning next week, a site will a lot of requests against individual pages will find all of its pages ranking lower in Google. From today’s post:

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.

Why Now?

Why not do this before? Personally, my own feeling is that Google — now a content distribution company that really wants partnerships — has finally decided it needs to deal with the embarrassing situation of pirated content showing up in its results (this happens at Bing, too, but Hollywood generally doesn’t care about that). For its part, Google says the change is only now happening because it finally has the data it needs:

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.

What’s A Valid Request?

But what if someone files a complaint that Google upholds, even if it’s not? Actually, that will happen. “Valid,” as best I can tell, simply means that someone filed the right paperwork and that Google didn’t receive a counter-challenge. From the post:

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.

Then again, it also seems like even if the paperwork is valid, Google does, on occasion (about 3% of the time) still refused to honor them.

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