Over the years, Google has faced a large amount of criticism from businesses and site owners who have been calling for the search engine to step up its procedures for penalising sites that are linked to copyright-infringing material.
The Pirate Update
Originally introduced in August 2012, the Pirate update was brought into place by Google to prevent these types of sites from ranking highly (and therefore having a damaging impact on their traffic levels).
Many were concerned that Google had since neglected this update and, as a result, a re-run of the Pirate Update came into play back in October 2014 with the intention of catching the new pirate sites that had popped up over the last 2 years. Judging by the amount of links removed from the SERPs, it seems that the algorithm update has been a lot more successful this time around.
A recent study carried out by Torrent Freak revealed that the number of link removal requests to Google in 2014 had increased by a massive 75 percent compared to 2013, taking the number of take-down requests to over 345 million.
What did they find?
When asked about their recent analysis, Torrent Freak stated:
‘The majority of these requests are honoured with the associated links being removed from Google’s search results, however, some requests receive a “no action” status if Google determines there is no copyright infringement, or the link has already been removed.’
Who is requesting the removal of links?
From Torrent Freaks’ research, it seems that the largest link removal requester in the UK is The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), who are responsible for over 60 million removal requests.
The BPI is a group that represents and works in the best interests of its members, a list which contains some of the UK’s largest music companies, including big labels Sony and Warner. With BPI’s members accounting for 85% of all music sold in the UK, it’s no wonder they felt compelled to submit so many link removal requests.
Research also concluded that a large amount of requests were linked to three URLs in particular – 4shared.com, radipgator.net and uploaded.net. Each site received over 5 million removal requests!
What does this mean for the future?
Although for the most part copyright infringement and pirate sites are being kept at bay for the immediate future, it’s clear that Google still needs to work hard to keep on top of the issue.
Online piracy is becoming a growing concern for the entertainment industry, and there’s only so much the search engines can do to weed them out of the search results. Google can play a part in policing the web, but the company has said that there does need to be an increase in cheap, accessible and fully legitimate media sites that are more appealing than the unlawful ones. Service providers such as Netflix, iTunes and Spotify may have their flaws, but they are certainly leading the way when it comes to bringing media to the masses and ensuring that artists and producers are fully credited and paid for their work. The key is to ensure these platforms are promoted in place of pirate sites, and that the algorithms that are governing the SERPs are looking for the right ranking signals.