Over the past months, it has become clear that Google is voluntarily helping rightsholders to tackle online piracy. The search giant has now removed another batch of ‘pirate site’ URLs from its results in the Netherlands, just days after a local ISP was ordered to block them. While it’s a big step to take, Google hasn’t yet commented on the matter.
For more than a decade, various copyright industry groups have called on Google and other search engines to help contain the piracy problem.
Google was initially hesitant to take action, but the company has gradually tweaked its algorithms over the years to accommodate the complaints.
The first step was to demote results for domain names for which it receives many DMCA takedown notices. On top of that, it has also removed several piracy-related terms from its autocomplete feature.
Behind the scenes, rightsholders and Google also worked on other undisclosed measures. While the company hasn’t said much in public, one major change is hard to miss. Starting last year, Google began removing entire domains from its search results.
In the past, Google said that it wasn’t in favor of these “whole-site” removals, but this stance has changed. When rightsholders inform the search engine of an order that requires local ISPs to block specific pirate sites, Google voluntarily does the same.
These search results removals are limited to the region where the blocking order applies, usually a single country.
There have been a few of these instances already, including in France, Denmark, and the UK. Most of the requests cite dated court orders; in some cases close to a decade old. However, new information shows that Google responds quickly to new orders as well….