Not only is Google doing very little to demote the worst offenders, they actually seem to be encouraging them. According to a just-released report from the RIAA, the sites getting the most complaints from major media companies are actually getting prioritized in search rankings. “This data suggests that the sites in question – the sample of sites for which Google had received more than 100,000 instances of infringement – were not demoted in any meaningful respect for this class of search queries,” a the finding stated.
“Rather, they increased in frequency in the top 5 rankings after the demotion signal went into effect around August 10-12, 2012.”
That ‘demotion signal‘ refers to an announcement by Google to de-prioritize certain offending sites, and scrub Autocomplete of suggestions leading to places like mp3skull.com. These were explicit promises. “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,” announced Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President of Engineering for Google on August 10th, 2012.
“Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results. This ranking 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.”
Except, the report indicates that none of that is happening. “Well known, authorized download sites, such as iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic, only appeared in the top ten results for a little more than half of the searches,” the report continued. “This means that a site for which Google has received thousands of copyright removal requests was almost 8 times more likely to show up in a search result than an authorized music download site.”
And the worst copyright offenders are only getting more traffic.
The full report is here.