Study Finds That Google Prioritizes Sites With the Most Copyright Violations

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.

33 Responses

  1. Visitor

    Google prioritizes results based on what they think people want to find, not on what is legal and is not. This study just wasted money on finding the obvious.

    • Visitor

      “Google prioritizes results based on what they think people want to find”
      Wrong.
      People just don’t like pirates anymore.
      Less than 20% find it OK to upload copyrighted files to websites where they can be ‘shared’.
      And a clear majority of the population even want to punish illegal downloaders now.
      Source:
      https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2013/20130118blocking
      Times are changing, and the Piracy Industry has to find new business models.
      Get over it.

      • Visitor

        Music biz should just start their own special search engine that only lists “approved” links. Since people don’t like pirates anymore, they will flock in huge numbers to this wonderful new search engine. As an added bonus, it will also employ the 12,000 failed musicians (according to East Bay Ray) that have been put out of work by YouTube.
        What’s not to love. Google will die a slow and painful death.
        People just don’t like pirates

        • Visitor

          “Music biz should just start their own special search engine”
          No — but you are in fact right that the world needs a new search engine.
          A precise search engine that won’t spam you with millions of useless links to the Piracy Industry.

    • Visitor

      You do realize the entire foundation of Google’s business is to put the links most people want to visit at the top right? Right below the place people pay for. Why? Because it is about the experience. For speed, simplicity. The most relevant goes to the top. And most people click those top few links. There is a reason Google is the #1 search engine, when every other search engine is just as easily accessible. The others do not work as well.

      “Less than 20% find it OK to upload copyrighted files to websites where they can be ‘shared’.”
      That’s great. 99.9% of people using google are not googling “where can I upload a copyrighted file” so it really doesn’t matter.

      • Visitor

        “Less than 20% find it OK to upload copyrighted files to websites where they can be ‘shared’.”
        That’s great.”
        Yes!
        When not even 20% of the population accept illegal upload — and more than half of the population actually want to punish illegal downloaders — then we can say for certain that people just don’t like piracy and pirates anymore.
        So Google lives in the past.
        That’s why we need a modern, precise search engine that doesn’t spam you with millions of useless links to the Piracy Industry!

  2. Visitor

    Google is today’s leading piracy search engine, torrent tracker & organized crime portal.
    And it is used as such…
    Here are four typical reader comments to one torrentfreak story about the new threats to the Pirate Bay:
    albums from scene groups are vanishing from pirate bay and we end up with loads of poorly encoded CBR mp3s, again I’m relying on google for quality music
    posted by: ‘Sup’
    Pirate Bay/Party, should involve Google as they also provide similar or same service.
    posted by: ‘ivi’
    Y are you NOT suing google? they host links just the same to copyrighted content and profit off of other things all the time just like TPB does
    posted by: ‘Who’
    Next they will be wanting to pull the plug on Google’s internet stating that they are linking to infringing content and they are not facilitating with the DMCA notices properly enough
    posted by: ‘thisguy1337’
    http://torrentfreak.com/pirate-party-threatened-with-lawsuit-for-hosting-the-pirate-bay-130219/
    The posters are right, of course.
    We have to treat Google exactly like the Pirate Bay and any other piracy search engine.

    • FarePlay

      Caught this ad on network tv last night. My jaw dropped.
      Microsoft has at it, with Google.

      • Visitor

        If you liked that, you’ll love this:
        http://www.scroogled.com/
        Watch the video and hear Eric Schmidt explain Google’s infamous Creepy Line Philosphy:
        “There is what I call the Creepy Line, and the Google policy about a lot of these things is to get right up to the Creepy Line, but not cross it.”
        The really creepy part about the Creepy Line Philosophy is that Google, and no one else, decides where and what it is from case to case — and whether or not they cross it.

  3. Central Scrutinizer

    Please note that senior vice president Amit Singhal said “may” appear lower in search results.

  4. Visitor

    In the search business more is better.
    Since there are roughly a dozen or so authorized links and hundreds of un-authorized links, it makes sense that you are 8 times more likely to find the un-autrhorized links

    • Visitor

      “In the search business more is better.”
      No, precise is better!
      Today, you have to add terms like -“piratebay”, -“serial number”, -“crack”, -“free download” and -“torrent” to your search string when you google music, literature, software, movies or anything else that can be pirated.
      If you don’t, Google will spam you with useless ‘results’.
      That’s why we need a new search engine.

      • Visitor

        … oh, and let’s not get started on the auto-complete. That’s just a complete joke.
        How can a company get away with actively encouraging people to commit crimes?

      • SheepGoBaaah

        Visitor.. Get a name and stick with it.
        You’re always in here repeating your selective reading of some report.. dismissing things you don’t understand or are too afraid to discuss.. and finishing up with, “get over it.” So you already have a signature.. just make it official..

        • Visitor

          “Visitor.. Get a name and stick with it.”
          🙂 At least 5-10 guys post under that pseudonym.
          Most of us have one or several extremely annoying habits. One of mine is to educate pirates.
          But don’t worry — as one of my esteemed colleagues said:
          “We are the Visitor Collective. We come in peace.”

      • Visitor

        Not so fast. Tech/Internet companies (like Google) are the only things keeping the US economy afloat these days. If the govt makes a climate that is not conductive to tech, companies will move elsewere. And instead of a vibrant tech industry and so-so creative industry, we’ll have nothing at all except a banana republic.

        • Visitor

          “Tech/Internet companies (like Google) are the only things keeping the US economy afloat these days.”
          Wrong! The Internet only contributed 4.7% to the U.S. GDP in 2010!
          Source:

          The creative industries are much more important.
          In the EU, their contribution was 6,9% of the total European GDP in 2008:

          And in the U.S.? Let’s see:
          “the total copyright industries current dollar share of U.S.
          GDP remained at about 11.1%, peaking at 11.26% in 2007”
          Source:

          So it is crucial for you to support the copyright industries, if the US economy is important to you.

          • SheepGoBaaah

            More selective reading.. That first report also stated, “In the developed markets of the G-20, the Internet economy will grow approximately 8 percent annually” ..it’s no longer 2010..
            Personally, I think these reports are garbage any way you look at them.. if you don’t understand economics, you might want to tone it down a bit..

          • Visitor

            “Personally, I think”

            The difference between you and me is that I provide documented facts, while you provide personal opinions.

          • SheepGoBaaah

            And now on to your second signature move, dismissal.
            In my last comment, I provided figures from the report that you documented to point out how you’re being selective and misleading. The quote was not my personal opinion.

          • Visitor

            By all means, let’s add the possible growth to the 4.7% and guestimate that the Internet may contribute about 6% of the U.S. GDP in 2013.
            The Copyright industries in 2007 still contributed 11.26%.
            That makes the Copyright industries almost twice as important to U.S. economy.
            So, again:
            It’s essential to support the Copyright industries, if the U.S. economy is important to you.

          • SheepGoBaaah

            We have two numbers, one rapidly increasing, the other stagnating and declining. You’re ignoring the movement of these numbers to make a weak point. Typewriters had more “economic importance” at the time the computer was in an infantile state. Should we have pushed for legislation that privileged the typewriter industry and shut out the computer industry based upon “economic importance” at a given time? This might sound ridiculous, but this is your argument.

          • Bandit

            I did same search and got same results.
            However, google’s suggested auto complete includes “download.”
            When you click on that the very first site is a 4shared search service
            The second is an unofficial youtube clip. Click on that and conveniently on the righthand side is a long list of other unofficial videos

          • Founder at RemixRotation.com

            you should also try our music search engine at RemixRotation.com
            all our download links are guaranteed to lead to legitimate sites only.

        • PTSoundHound

          Thought I’d test that theory: I put “gotye somebody i used to know” into said search engine – results were (in order)

          1: YouTube clip (Gotye official)
          2: YouTube clip (Bombs Away dubstep remix)
          3: Vimeo clip (Gotye official)
          4: MetroLyrics – Gotye “Somebody That I Used To Know”
          5: Wikipedia – “Somebody That I Used To Know”
          6: Wikipedia – “Gotye”
          7: Images for “gotye somebody i used to know”
          8: AZLyrics – Gotye “Somebody That I Used To Know”
          9: Forbes.com article – “Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ Video has 170 Million Views and Sells 4.5 Million!”
          10: NEWS.com.au article – “Gotye somebody that we used to know, say former bandmates from The Basics”
          … and that’s your lot for page 1. 2 x official channels, 1 x remix vid, 2 x lyrics sites (legal or not, I don’t know), 2 x Wikipedia articles and 2 x news stories from official sources and a link to some images.
          And I didn’t need to put in “-mp3”, “-piratebay” “-free” or anything similar.
          As for “precise”, I’d give it 9/10 as it didn’t give me the Official Gotye site.

  5. Visitor

    “The full report is here.”
    I couldn’t open the link. Perhaps it’s just me, but you can also find it here:

    And it’s worth reading…

    • paul

      Anyone else having problems with that link? Seems to be working on this end, but…
      /paul

  6. Stay Positive

    Google uses algorithms. There’s no human (or pigeon) running it – as has been previously stated it’s trying to serve what the algorithm ‘thinks’ you want to see and will click on.
    Even if Google changes the algorithm to deemphasize sites with take-down notices, if that’s overshadowed by other aspects of the algorithm (like traffic/relevance) the piracy sites will still get served and official sites will still get bumped down.
    Perhaps a solution: instead of investing millions in litigation, take-down notices and other very public campaigns which provide more publicity for the pirates – let’s invest in great music and provide it on legal, monetized, easy to access streaming and download services that are so convenient, ubiquitous and well marketed that the concept of downloading from piracy sites is actually less convenient and costs more in opportunity cost than the financial cost from a transacton of engaging in legal music consumption.

    • tom hughes

      I first see that google is the biggest search engine, but digital music is not the center-piece of a search engine since you can search anything on google including your street your house, etc; space maps and so much more, but the complaints I hear the most is pirated digital music being placed wrongly over the really real stuff snuffing out the creators ability to stay relevant in the digital media social network- creating fan-based interaction and latest technologies that simply apply to music sales which I believe is the gist of being on the internet.
      You are right, we have to create our own digital nation or in fact our own search engines. for whatever WE can produce ourselves. Protect ourselves from this war within and we began a more peaceful and orderly direction. I will put some of your music on my sites and directions into the music media social networking technologies if someone would do the same for me and some of my music. Look how bigger we just got.

      • Founder at RemixRotation.com

        the “solution” to this issue, is to have a specialized branch optimized for music content, as a step of your search execution tree.

        at RemixRotation.com we have a music search engine which supports a two step search path for electronic music (PATH= Electronic ++).

        in this mode, the 1st step is to search through a fully qualified catalog of music meta data. the 2nd step is to use the earlier results to run a specialized music search, including the automated creation of links to legitimate download sites.

      • Founder at RemixRotation.com

        the “solution” to this issue, is to have a specialized branch optimized for music content, as a step of your search execution tree.

        at RemixRotation.com we have a music search engine which supports a two step search path for electronic music (PATH= Electronic ++).

        in this mode, the 1st step is to search through a fully qualified catalog of music meta data. the 2nd step is to use the earlier results to run a specialized music search, including the automated creation of links to legitimate download sites.

        (not sure if i am posting this twice)