Google’s Opaque New Policy Lets Rightsholders Dictate Search Results

Earlier this summer, we applauded Google for releasing detailed stats about content removal requests from copyright holders. Now that we know how they are going to use that data, we are less enthusiastic. Today, Google announced that it would use copyright takedown notices made under the DMCA1 as what it calls a “signal” on search results. Specifically, those “signals” will demote certain websites in search results.We wish we had some more details to illustrate just what that means, but unfortunately the process is pretty opaque. What we know: sites that have a “high number of removal notices” of takedown notices that result in actual takedowns will show up lower in some search results, though they will not be removed. What we don’t know: what is a “high number”? How does Google plan to make these determinations? Oh, and one other thing we do know, one that is particularly troubling: there will be no process or recourse for sites who have been demoted.

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