Google announce changes to make pirate mp3s harder to download

by Dale Wright

The Pirate Bay block was big news, but illegal content is still easy to find via search engines, much to the dismay of organisations like the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Google have long been criticised for listing websites that provide illegal access to mp3s and movies. Often, these illegal websites are listed at the top of search results, pushing legitimate content down onto the second or third page.
Google censors

Now Google are doing something about it. They’re changing the way pages are indexed so that legal mp3s and videos are pushed to the top of the page and illegal content is downgraded and forced into second place. This should mean that legal links to downloading, say, the newest Adele album are right at the top of search results, and it’ll be harder – although maybe not impossible – to find that material for free.

In addition, people who own the copyright will be able to request that illegal links to pirated downloads are removed entirely from Google.

Google’s senior vice president of engineering Amit Singhal said on the Google blog that the company has received more than 4 million copyright notices in the last month. People who believe their content is legit will be able to appeal.

Some critics say that Google shouldn’t be changing the way information is presented, and the ‘censoring’ of links could start a slippery slope of requests from different organisations to make information harder to find. However, piracy is under the spotlight, and by providing easy access to illegal downloads, Google could be said to be facilitating piracy – something the company obviously wants to avoid.

So what does this mean for us? It’ll be much easier to buy legal movies and games for your iPad, iPhone, Android device or mp3 player. It’ll also be much more time-consuming to illegally download that content, and in some cases, websites may start to be ‘banned’ from Google entirely.

What do you think? Are Google censoring the web, or is this a good way to combat online piracy? Let us know.