Google is adding “pirate hunter” to its very long list of jobs this week, announcing that starting next week they plan to change the Google search algorithm to downrank sites flagged for repeated copyright infringement. In other words, file sharing sites like The Pirate Bay, Demonoid, et al. The questionable sites aren’t being removed from Google search, just penalized for bad behavior. Kind of like hockey, only with an invisible search-based box.
The corporate giant says that the change is designed to help bring people to “legitimate, quality sources of content more easily,” essentially raising the likelihood that people looking for illegal media will see links to streaming services instead of torrent sites. The number one search engine has long been taking heat from both media conglomerates and digital free speech activists: Media companies feel that letting people find torrents via search engines encourages piracy, while free speech rights lobbyists claim that Google shouldn’t be flagging sites for copyright infringement at all unless they are legally found guilty of a crime.
Unfortunately for the activists, film studios and record companies have money — and copyrights, so Google’s taking their side a little bit. Any kind of deals that the company wants to make with the media overlords hinge on their larger decisions on the Internet regarding copyright. For online pirates with painful hand and wrist injuries, the sensation of scrolling down the Google results page may be too much to bear, but for most it will just mean making an extra click or two to download whatever they want.
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