Google Algorithm Update: Pirate 2.0
Posted on October 22, 2014
In 2013 alone, the Recording Industry Association of America made 31.6 million requests to Google to remove pirated content. While Google was able to remove a great deal of pirated content, there is simply much more content than Google can police. As fast as pirated content is coming down, it's going back up. This is happening partially because Google has gone over two years without an update to its anti-piracy measure, which premiered in August 2012. With an update scheduled to come next week, let's take a look at some of the forthcoming changes that will affect online piracy.
What's Changing with Pirate 2.0
Google pushes all of the known websites through a series of filters, including the anti-piracy Pirate. Any websites that do not pass through the filters cleanly will be downgraded in Google. Interestingly, Google has not run the Pirate filter since 2012. So any website that was penalized in 2012 has never had a chance at seeing redemption, and any pirate website that has come into existence since 2012 has escaped a penalty unless a specific complaint has been filed against it.
This is about to change. Google will now run the filter again, catching thousands of websites in its net. This will have an immediate impact on the quality and legitimacy of returned search results.
Google is also taking a new advertising tactic in hopes of preventing web users from illegally downloading movies. Now, when users search for ways to watch hit movies or TV shows free online, Google will display an ad showing the current cost of the film or TV show at online retailers. While this isn't a perfect technique, as a retailer will have to purchase a spot on the ad to be shown to users, it is a good step toward curtailing illegal media downloading. Similar technology will also be integrated into search sidebars.
Finally, Google will review the way its Autocomplete function works. At present, Autocomplete relies on popular searches. As a result, it often returns results that include sites that are known offenders. Coming soon, Google will stop returning sites that have receive complaints under the DCMA (Digital Copyright Millennium Act). This will make it more difficult for searchers to find those sites that are known to display pirated content.
If Pirate works as expected, users will have to be more creative to search out pirated content. As a result, many may opt to pay for content that they would have previously downloaded illegally. This may also lead to price drops in legal content, as retailers may now be competing for a larger audience willing to pay for content on demand. Additionally, artists are welcoming the update as a way to receive greater royalties related to purchase of content.
There may be some kinks in the rollout of the Pirate Update, so all features may not work as promised at first. However, it does seem like a viable opportunity.
Google may be making these changes to Pirate now to escape bad press form a recent dustup with News Corp, which has accused Google of not doing enough to prevent piracy. Time will tell whether this is a one-off from Google, or whether this really will indicate more aggressive pursuit of online piracy.
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