The music industry has long wanted Google to more proactively limit access to pirated music content on the Web. Today, Google posted plans that address some of these concerns, but likely not to the extend the music industry would like.

Google General Counsel Kent Walker posted four changes that the company will implement over the coming months designed to deter piracy. They include:

- Acting on copyright takedown requests within 24 hours, and building new tools to make it easier for rightsholders to submit takedown requests. On the flip side, it will make it easier for users to appeal when they feel content was wrongly removed and add transparency to the entire takedown process.

- Preventing terms “closely associated” with piracy from appearing in the Autocomplete feature during search queries. While it’s not fully banning pirate sources from Google’s search results—which is what the music industry wants most—it’s a step.

- Improving anti-piracy around AdSense. While Google already doesn’t allow pirate websites to make money off its AdSense program, the company says it will work with rightsholders to better identify copyright violators using the program and ban then from further participation.

- Prioritizing authorized content in search previews. So when searching for a song, Google will somehow highlight access to song samples and full-song streaming from legitimate services more than other sources.

Exactly how all of this is to be accomplished is not clear, and Google’s not providing additional details at this time. Depending on how well these steps are executed, it could go a long way towards emphasizing legitimate sources of music in its search results.

However it also could be mostly cosmetic and easily circumvented. For instance, doing a search simply on “Eminem” may offer all manner of legitimate sources and content. But doing a search on “Eminem Torrent” may skip all that and just list the torrent sites with Eminem content available.

Regardless, the steps may be necessary to ease the concerns of the music industry as it continues to seek licensing deals for a still-pending digital music service.

The RIAA issued the following statement following the announcement:
"We certainly have a deep interest in these issues. Our initial take? These are encouraging and positive first steps towards a more sensible online experience for both users and the music community. Google deserves credit for proposing a constructive set of reforms and undertaking useful steps to better protect the rights of creators and encourage legal ways to enjoy music. While there is much more work to be done, this announcement is an important acknowledgement that everyone involved in the online ecosystem has a shared responsibility to constructively address the online piracy problem that is devastating the creative industries. Obviously, the details of implementation will be critical, and we look forward to working with Google on all the steps necessary to effectively combat infringement."

For more insight into Google’s plans, check out this interview with Simon Morrison, the company’s copyright, policy and communications manager in Europe.