Google will start taking into account valid copyright removal notices in its search algorithms. The change, to be made next week, means sites that receive a high number of copyright infringements notices from rights holders could see their search rankings fall while legal sites rise in the rankings.
In a post at its Inside Search blog Friday, Google explains the 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."
Rights owners, frustrated by the ease by which illegal content can be accessed, have long sought for search engines to protect against piracy. Google has responded by taking requests from content owners to remove search results that link to infringing material. The quantity of requests -- not links to infringing content, but requests -- is staggering: Google's Transparency Report website says over 4.3 million URLs have been requested to be removed in the last month alone.
The RIAA was quick to applaud Google's decision to change its search results. "This should result in improved rankings for the licensed music services that pay artists and deliver fans the music they love," said Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman in a statement. "This change is an important step in the right direction -- a step we've been urging Google to take for a long time -- and we commend the company for its action."
The MPAA was more cautious in offering congratulations. "We will be watching this development closely -- the devil is always in the details -- and look forward to Google taking further steps to ensure that its services favor legitimate businesses and creators, not thieves," Michael O'Leary, Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External Affairs, said in a statement.