Google has announced a new plan to help combat copyright infringement by reshaping its search technology and offering an easier and more accessible takedown request form. The news comes hot on the heels of news that the U.S. government has begun a multi-tiered crackdown on piracy and counterfeit websites.
While major media companies have certainly been putting pressure on Google to make piracy more difficult, the company has remained adamant about maintaining a free and open Internet. The planned changes are significant but don't overhaul the system in a way that most people will even notice, which might very well be the point.
According to Google's Public Policy Blog, there are four basic new rules that the company will be following. First, it plans to improve takedown request time to under 24 hours. This is a part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a measure that allows copyright holders to request that websites remove copyrighted material. Basically, it's a simple, non-legal means for companies to request blogs and websites to remove copyright-infringing content.
To justify the quicker removal, Google is also improving its counter-notice measures, meaning website owners can quickly dispute claims of copyright violation. This is key to maintaining a balance between the two and will help people using copyrighted material under Fair Use Guidelines and other exceptions.
Google will also prohibit owners of websites distributing or linking to copyrighted material from taking advantage of its AdSense program, meaning these sites wouldn't be able to benefit from the advertising system Google provides.
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Finally, the two most important new rules for regular web surfers: Terms associated with piracy will be removed from autocomplete forms on Google's search engine and the company will expand the scope of authorized preview content. This means that when you type in "Lady Gaga Poker Face," you'll be linked directly to the official video as well as official sale outlets instead of a list of torrent links.
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When reached for comment, Google had nothing to add to the above-mentioned blog; however, it was noted that the company has worked on improving both automated and manual solutions for DMCA takedown requests, and that all content with a copyright will be treated the same, from photographs to music and beyond. The spokesman was also adamant that the counter-measures would be treated with the same fairness as the initial takedown requests and that Creative Commons and Fair Use would be taken into account accordingly.
In unrelated but curiously similar news, Google has also just purchased Seattle-based Widevine, a company that makes digital rights management software (DRM) to prevent piracy without being intrusive or overly complex.