Power to the … Movie Studios?

August 22nd, 2012
Last week Google implemented a change in how it determines search results that could have profound implications for a large variety of websites. Google announced that it was changing how it determined search results for certain sites in order to keep pirated or illegal content from its results. These changes are being heralded by many as giving too much power to copyright holders, and an example of what some claim as Google’s increasing willingness to give power to copyright holders over individual websites.
Basically, Google is now taking into consideration how many “valid copyright removal notices” it receives for a particular site when compiling search results. It’s important to note that copyright removal notices are basically a form of complaint that anyone can easily file. In many cases, removal notices are filed with Google for a variety of reasons that may be considered “valid” by Google, but are not “valid” according to law.
For example: Let’s say you’re running a blog that covers the goofy wardrobe choices of news anchors on a local TV station. In one post, you share a screen shot of a recent broadcast as a reference for your critique of what the anchor was wearing. From a technical perspective, that TV broadcast (and all images contained therein) belong to the news station. Fair Use law allows you to post the image, even though it is copyrighted, because you are referencing it for a “journalistic” purpose. But the local news station may not see it that way.
The local station may decide that it doesn’t like you making fun of its anchors, and starts a campaign to drown your site in copyright complaints. By doing so, Google will see a bunch of complaints related to your website, and may eventually stop showing your site in search results.- even though the complaints are based on a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the law.
What Google has done in this case, in essence, is give the power to take down your website to the local news station. Over time, this makes Google even more vulnerable to gaming, especially by heavy-handed rights owners like movie studios and record labels.
Now Google says it will only consider “valid” complaints, but won’t explain how it determines what a “valid” complaint is. Additionally, some of Google’s own properties, like YouTube, are exempt from this filtering.
Google is always making changes and responding to user demand- so hopefully in this case, enough noise will be made to incite a change in this practice. In the meantime, we’ll have to trust that Google is doing the right thing and sticking by it’s famous mantra “Don’t Be Evil”.

Google Changes by South Central Mediaby Daniel Hadaway

Last week Google implemented a change in how it determines search results that could have profound implications for a large variety of websites. Google announced that it was changing how it determined search results for certain sites in order to keep pirated or illegal content from its results. These changes are being heralded by many as giving too much power to copyright holders, and an example of what some claim as Google’s increasing willingness to give power to copyright holders over individual websites.

Basically, Google is now taking into consideration how many “valid copyright removal notices” it receives for a particular site when compiling search results. It’s important to note that copyright removal notices are basically a form of complaint that anyone can easily file. In many cases, removal notices are filed with Google for a variety of reasons that may be considered “valid” by Google, but are not “valid” according to law.

For example: Let’s say you’re running a blog that covers the goofy wardrobe choices of news anchors on a local TV station. In one post, you share a screen shot of a recent broadcast as a reference for your critique of what the anchor was wearing. From a technical perspective, that TV broadcast (and all images contained therein) belong to the news station. Fair Use law allows you to post the image, even though it is copyrighted, because you are referencing it for a “journalistic” purpose. But the local news station may not see it that way.

The local station may decide that it doesn’t like you making fun of its anchors, and starts a campaign to drown your site in copyright complaints. By doing so, Google will see a bunch of complaints related to your website, and may eventually stop showing your site in search results.- even though the complaints are based on a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the law.

What Google has done in this case, in essence, is give the power to take down your website to the local news station. Over time, this makes Google even more vulnerable to gaming, especially by heavy-handed rights owners like movie studios and record labels.

Now Google says it will only consider “valid” complaints, but won’t explain how it determines what a “valid” complaint is. Additionally, some of Google’s own properties, like YouTube, are exempt from this filtering.

Google is always making changes and responding to user demand- so hopefully in this case, enough noise will be made to incite a change in this practice. In the meantime, we’ll have to trust that Google is doing the right thing and sticking by it’s famous mantra “Don’t Be Evil.”

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