Google has, once again, changed their search algorithm, but it's not for the normal reasons. Normally when these changes happen it is to enhance their search result relevancy; this time it is to reduce their search result relevancy. In response to pressure from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Google will now suppress relevant search results from websites which have had copyright claims against them.
Amit Singhal, Google Engineering SVP, wrote,
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 this may be good for Hulu and Spotify, what does this mean for legitimate websites who have received false claims? Hit the break for those answers and responses from affected parties, both for and against.
We'll start with the big guns: MPAA and RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). Michael O'Leary, Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External
Affairs of the MPAA said,
We are optimistic that Google's actions will help steer consumers to the myriad legitimate ways for them to access movies and TV shows online, and away from the rogue cyberlockers, peer-to-peer sites, and other outlaw enterprises that steal the hard work of creators across the globe. We will be watching this development closely - the devil is always in the details - and look forward to Google taking further steps to ensure that its services favor legitimate businesses and creators, not thieves.
RIAA was equally excited. A spokesperson said,
This should result in improved rankings for the licensed music services that pay artists and deliver fans the music they love. This change is an important step in the right direction - a step we've been urging Google to take for a long time - and we commend the company for its action.
Danny Sullivan, head of Search Engine Land, suggested that the reasoning behind this change is bigger and far more devious than Google would let on.
Google - now a content distribution company that really wants partnerships - has finally decided it needs to deal with the embarrassing situation of pirated content showing up in its results (this happens at Bing, too, but Hollywood generally doesn't care about that).
Google has become a massive content distributor, between YouTube and Google Play, and keeping the content producers on their side is an important task. Without the content providers, neither of these services can continue, so bowing to their whim was only a matter of time. Luckily, whenever a company makes a mistake, competition thrives. Maybe this is exactly what Microsoft needed to succeed with Bing.