Google Inc is altering its search results to de-emphasize the Web sites of repeat copyright offenders and make it easier to find legitimate providers of music, movies and other content.
The move is a peace offering to Hollywood and the music recording labels. This year, Google joined other Silicon Valley heavyweights to help kill legislation that would have given government and content creators more power to shut down foreign Web sites that promote piracy.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) issued a response, saying it was “optimistic” the change would help steer consumers away from piracy.
“We will be watching this development closely — the devil is always in the details,” MPAA senior executive president Michael O’Leary said in a statement.
This week, Google will start using “valid copyright removal notices” to rank its search results, according to a Friday blog post by Google’s senior vice president of engineering, Amit Singhal.
Google typically ranks Web sites based on how many other sites link to them, on the belief that sites that get more links are more trustworthy and useful, but the Web titan also regularly tweaks its formulas to reflect special circumstances.
In this case, sites with high numbers of copyright-removal notices may get bumped down in rankings. In effect, that will help users find legitimate sources of content without removing any pages from its results completely.