Google Under Scrutiny from UK Government

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Back in August, search-giant Google started looking at a new signal when it comes to what they display in their results. From Google's Inside Search blog, they said: "... 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. 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..."

Already, I have seen result pages showing removal notices (see left), but most of the time you have get to the second or third page before you find them. The top results for searches such as 'coldplay mp3' or 'metallica torrent' are still dominated with links to copyright infringing content.

Following complaints from those in the music, film and publishing industries, the UK Government is to review Google's pledge to downgrade illegal file-sharing websites within their search engine results pages. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said in a statement: "The Department is aware of the concerns raised by rights holders that this has not had the impact that they hoped, and, together with industry, we now need to review the effect of the technical change made by Google and consider our options.

"This is part of a wider campaign to tackle online infringement, which includes working together with payment facilitators (such as credit card companies) and online advertising bodies to reduce the revenue flowing to seriously infringing -- often criminal -- sites."

In response, a spokesperson for Google told the Guardian: "We continue to work closely with the industry to protect rights holders and their material. Sites with high numbers of removal notices are now more likely to appear lower in our results, we've made it easier to report pirated material and now take down more than seven million infringing links per month."


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