In an ongoing effort in the fight against software and music piracy, Google announced a plan to put greater emphasis on legitimate sources.
Google has often received criticism for enabling users to easily find sites that serve illegal content. The entertainment industry has long called for Google to push illegal sites down in search results and put a greater emphasis on sites that have approved content. In an attempt to answer those critics, Google has announced a plan to make legitimate sites more prominent.
The new policy will push users to legal sources, such as Spotify or Google Music, by listing them in boxes at the top and right side of the search results page. The move is mostly welcomed by the entertainment industry but it does not come without its own set of issues. The newly highlighted results are advertisements, meaning sites will have to pay to have their links shown. Music trade group BPI, while pleased with the overall effort, also feel that legitimate sites should not have to pay for the right to have their content shown before illegal sources.
Instead of charging sites, UK’s BPI argued, Google should cross-reference search results against sites such as Music Matters, which tabulates licensed sites. Results that are from sites known to be legitimate would then, presumably, be pushed to the top. Google responded to these concerns by stating that they have been doctoring searches to de-emphasize illegal results for several years, and the process is ongoing.
Google has also defended its anti-piracy efforts by highlighting efforts such as YouTube’s ‘Content ID’ system, which detects copyrighted material and gives the owners the choice of pulling down or monetizing the links. And in a report released along with the announcement, Google has called for the entertainment industry to put greater effort in improving their services:
The best way to battle piracy is with better, more convenient, legitimate alternatives to piracy. By developing products with beautiful user experiences, we help drive revenue for creative industries.
Still, industry and governmental pressure on Google to make additional changes is constant, and Google has backed down on several occasions. It remains to be seen if this new approach is successful.
Are you satisfied with Google’s anti-piracy efforts, or are you concerned that this could ultimately lead to further restrictions. Let us know in the comments below, or on Google+, Facebook or Twitter!