On Friday, August 10, 2012, Google announced that it was changing its search algorithms so that websites with high numbers of valid copyright infringement removal notices would appear much lower in the search results. This announcement was greeted with strong approval by many online copyright content owners who have for years tried various methods of pressuring Google and other Internet site operators to take action to combat copyright infringement and piracy. Many of these large media companies had backed two anti-piracy bills before the U.S. Congress earlier this year – known as SOPA and PIPA – which had proposed significant penalties for online pirating of copyrighted content, with particular aim at infringing foreign websites. That legislation was opposed by many constituencies, including Yahoo and Google, claiming it would abridge freedom on the Internet. The legislation ultimately died.
Google said it now receives more than 1 million copyright removal notices a week related to its search engine, and, in the last 30 days, had received over 4.3 million. To put this in perspective, the number of notices received in the last 30 days is more than what Google received for all of 2009.
It remains to be seen whether any others will follow Google’s approach, and whether this action will result in any diminishment of copyright infringement online.