According to a blog post on Inside Search, Google's official search blog, the company will be releasing a filter that will negatively affect sites that have a large number of valid copyright complaints. The new policy focuses on demoting websites that pirate content while promoting legitimate rich media sources. The article listed sites like Hulu, NPR and Spotify as examples of content sources that won't be affected.
Copyright removal notices, a system that allows content owners to notify Google if their media has been posted without permission, has been an integral part of YouTube that has kept complaints against the search engine to a minimum. Google has now extended the copyright notifications beyond YouTube and into a new notification system that will affect the search engine algorithm. Google is also concerned with false positives, or, in other words, a case of a website being demoted that does not in fact copyright content. Therefore, a 'counter-notice' tool has also been released that allows website owners "who believe their content has been wrongly removed can get it reinstated."
Copyright infringement on the Internet has been a thorn in the side of television executives, recording artists and movie production houses for the past decade. This frustration culminated in the creation of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) in 2011, which resulted in a largely negative public outcry against the measure. Google and other large Internet-based corporations found themselves among the dissenting crowd alleging the bill amounted to censorship of the Internet. The negative response from the public to the bill compelled members of congress to reconsider the bill entirely.
This new measure appears to be a self-imposed version of SOPA. Google cites extensive internal efforts against promoting sites that have legitimate copyright complaints. Amit Singhal, author of the Inside Search post, claims that "we re-booted our copyright removals over two years ago, we've been given much more data by copyright owners about infringing content online. In fact, we're now receiving and processing more copyright removal notices every day than we did in all of 2009."
This new policy must be what Google was referring to in the statement released early this year, stating "...there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet." Hopefully other corporations will follow suit and police themselves regarding copyright infringement. Policies like this will promote an uncensored Internet while protecting the rights of content owners.