Google has released a statement to say that it is downgrading piracy websites in its search results, the news comes just a few weeks after a group of British rock stars signed a letter to David Cameron to take action against piracy.
Music piracy sites often have higher return in Google searches than their official legal download counterparts when it comes to certain keyphrases. This is now set to change.
Writing on Google's blog, engineer Amit Singhal stated:
"Starting next week, 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 — whether it’s a song previewed on NPR’s music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify."
While the change to the Google algorithm is unlikely to have much of an effect on those who frequently use file sharing communities, it may make the practice more inaccessible to some.
But the big question is - will it help the ailing music industry? One of the main streaming sites for music is now Youtube, which is not a great revenue source even for artists who choose to monetize their accounts. It is hard to police unauthorised uploads on Youtube and there are a number of apps which allow users to download Youtube files.
Some may see the move by Google as a positive step, but it is unlikely to have a real influence over how people listen to music. If some sites are to be demoted on Google rankings, then others are likely to appear, even if they are legal sites they may be of low income to the industry in comparison to direct sales.
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