August 11, 2012 - In a Friday morning blog post, Google
said it will change its search
algorithm next week to take into account â€śthe number of valid copyright removal noticesâ€ť it receives for any site. High rates of removal notices are likely to drop a site down in the search results, which Google
says â€śshould help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily.â€ť
The new move appears to be a nod in the direction of rightsholders, most notably the MPAA and RIAA. The latter trade group, meanwhile, has argued previously that Google
isnâ€™t doing enough to remove possibly infringing links.
Digital rights advocates worried about lack of recourse
Meanwhile, the Electronic Frontier Foundation
worries that Googleâ€™s demotion of some websites may be abused, simply because they may be accused of copyright violations, rather than evaluated or even convicted. And the EFF isnâ€™t just being paranoid. Weâ€™ve seen many examples of rightholders issuing bad takedowns for files that were not infringing, or worse, that they didnâ€™t own or even see.
"What we donâ€™t know: what is a 'high number'?" wrote Julie Samuels and Mitch Stoltz, two EFF staff attorneys, on the organizationâ€™s blog on Friday.
"How does Google
plan to make these determinations? Oh, and one other thing we do know, one that is particularly troubling: there will be no process or recourse for sites who have been demoted? In particular, we worry about the false positives problem. For example, weâ€™ve seen the government wrongly target sites that actually have a right to post the allegedly infringing material in question or otherwise legally display content. In short, without details on how Googleâ€™s process works, we have no reason to believe they wonâ€™t make similar, over-inclusive mistakes, dropping lawful, relevant speech lower in its search results without recourse for the speakers."