Google’s new search policy leaves free Internet advocates worried

Aug 11, 2012
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Yesterday, Google announced that it will begin using copyright takedown notices to influence where sites show up in search results. The general idea behind it is that if a site has a lot of takedown notices (made under DMCA), it risks being demoted in search rankings. Obviously, this new decision has won the hearts of copyright advocates like the MPAA and the RIAA, but it's making those who would keep the Internet free and open a little uneasy.

Both the MPAA and the RIAA have praised Google for its newfound intolerance of copyright infringement. It wasn't too long ago that Google was at odds with the MPAA and RIAA, as the search giant stood against SOPA, a bill which the MPAA and RIAA both loved. Now, however, Google is understandably caught between a rock and a hard place. PCWorld reports that Google needs partners in Hollywood, and one of the best ways to do that is to crack down on copyright infringement. Indeed, Google may have just earned those partners in Hollywood, as the MPAA and the RIAA both seem pleased as punch by the implementation of this new policy.

No one is going to argue that copyright infringement is a good thing, but groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are worried that some sites may unjustly get caught in the crossfire. "In particular, we worry about the false positives problem," the EFF wrote on its website. "For example, we've seen the government wrongly target sites that actually have a right to post the allegedly infringing material in question or otherwise legally display content." The EFF continues by saying that since this new policy is so vague, it worries that Google will end up doing the same thing - punishing law-abiding websites, "without recourse" for those who have been wrongly demoted.

There's also the matter of false take down notices. It isn't exactly a secret that some business like to file fake take down requests against their competitors as of way of gaining an edge, so Google will have to be watching out for that as well. Google will definitely have its work cut out for it when it rolls out this new policy next week, so it's easy to understand why it's making some Internet advocates a little worried. Stay tuned more details as this whole thing develops.


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