It’s been undeniably easy to illegally download music and other media by simply Googling an item’s title. Searching for song titles will even often times rank results for download links on file hosting sites such as Zippyshare, 4shared, and FilesTube higher than links for legal means of purchasing the song (ie: Beatport). Popular new releases can be found on Google in a matter of seconds for free download. Starting this week Google has made changes to its search algorithm to dramatically shift this trend.
Google produces search results based off a very sophisticated ranking algorithm. Page title, content, keywords, prominence and popularity are among a few of the primary factors in ranking results. However, Google announced last week that it would be adding a new factor in generating search results. Copyright removal notices now negatively effect a site’s search ranking. This means that any website facing DMCA takedown notices requesting the removal of links containing illegal copyrighted material will be met with lower search rankings in a Google search result. The higher the number of “valid” takedown requests (requests that are not countered), the further down the search rankings a site will be buried. Many popular domains are highly effected.
Google maintains a current list of the domains facing the highest number of takedown requests, thus translating into the domains most effected. FilesTube.com sits at #1 with popular sites such as IsoHunt.com, Zippyshare.com, ThePirateBay.se, and 4shared.com following closely in the top 50 sites effected. Sites such as FilesTube are looking at over 300,000 active URLs effected in this change.
What This Means
It seems that download links can still be easily found by using the correct keywords in a search. For example searching “Song Title” may return primarily legal URLs but searching for “Song Title Zippyshare” will still find Zippyshare links as they match the specified keywords. Ultimately it doesn’t stop illegal downloading through Google searches but it does make appropriate official links rank higher in ordinary searches. This is a big step for music label and publishing copyright holders who are trying to protect their royalties. Does this mean more money directly in the hands of the artists whose material are being downloaded? It should, but that ultimately depends on each individual record label and artist management.