Recording Industry Doesn’t Like Google’s Record On Addressing Piracy
February 21, 2013

Recording Industry Doesn’t Like Google’s Record On Addressing Piracy

Peter Suciu for — Your Universe Online

The Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group that represents the music industry´s top three record labels, issued a report on Thursday that claims Google hasn´t lived up to a promise it made six months ago.

Back in August, Google sounded like it might modify its processes when dealing with illegal purveyors of copyrighted material. In a blog post dated August 10, 2012, the company stated:

“We aim to provide a great experience for our users and have developed over 200 signals to ensure our search algorithms deliver the best possible results. 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.”

The RIAA claims Google has, in fact, done little to live up to that promise. It noted in its research it found searches for popular music often end up with results that emphasize illegal sites, and moreover Google had announced it would take action against music piracy and has failed to so. The music trade lobby noted in a blog post Google would take into account the number of valid copyright notices it receives when a search result is returned, and has failed do so.

“Six months later, we have found no evidence that Google´s policy has had a demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy. These sites consistently appear at the top of Google´s search results for popular songs or artists,” the RIAA posted on its blog.

The music group claims despite millions of takedown requests, there has not been a significant drop in the ranks for so-called habitual violators. The RIAA also noted many legitimate music sites often only come up about half the time in the top ten results, and those sites guilty of copyright infringement could even be knocking the legitimate sites down in the rankings.

These sites, which the RIAA also dubbed “serial infringers” -- those sites accused by the copyright owner in the form of a written complaint, such as a takedown notice -- still appear on Goggle´s search results “over 98 percent of the time.”

Websites with dubious sounding names, such as as, reportedly appear more often in the top ten results than many common music purveyors, such as Apple or even Amazon. The RIAA further maintains it has received more than 100,000 copyright infringement notifications against the website.

“Our initial analysis concludes that so far Google´s pledge six months ago to demote pirate sites remains unfulfilled,” said RIAA general counsel Stephen Marks in an interview with the UK-based The Telegraph.

“Searches for popular music continue to yield results that emphasize illegal sites at the expense of legitimate services, which are often relegated to later pages. And Google´s auto-complete function continues to lead users to many of those same illicit sites.”

This remains a problem as Google is still the top search engine, something the RIAA acknowledged on its blog, adding, “Research shows that users trust search engines like Google to lead them to legitimate sites when searching for music, yet Google´s demotion program is not working. We encourage Google to immediately make the necessary changes so its pledge becomes a reality, and we stand ready to work with Google in that endeavor.”