In August 2012, to stem accusations that it doesn’t do enough to fight piracy, Google released what’s known as the Pirate Update, a system that penalized sites deemed to be violating copyright laws. Next week, Google is finally going to refresh that system to catch new offenders and release others that may have cleaned up their acts.
Google announced the new Pirate Update — call it Pirate Update 2 — will come out next week, along with new ad and editorial formats it says may help stem piracy.
The Pirate Update — similar to other updates like Panda or Penguin — works like a filter. Google processes all the sites it knows about through the Pirate filter. If it catches any deemed to be in violation, those receive a downgrade.
Anyone caught by this filter is then stuck with a downgrade until the next time it is run, when, presumably if they’ve received fewer or no complaints, they might get back in Google’s good graces. We don’t really know how that works yet, though, because Google has never rerun the Pirate Update filter.
That also means that anyone who might be in violation of what Pirate was aimed to catch has escaped any penalty since it first launched. Since it has never been rerun until now, it has never caught any new violators.
This is what I pointed out last month, when a war-of-words erupted between News Corp and Google over online piracy. Google said it does much to fight piracy and made a reference to the Pirate filter. I noted that wasn’t a great defense, since the company had been tardy in maintaining that system:
Google has never announced a fresh run of its Pirate filter, so citing this feels odd. It means that for over two years now, Google’s not tried to rerun that system to catch new sites exhibiting such behavior.
News Corp has continued its war-of-words with Google in the weeks since. So Google, it seems, is finally getting back to attending to the Pirate Update that it has long neglected, lest that became further bad PR fodder.
Google also has just introduced a new ad display in relation to queries where people might try to download movies from pirate sites:
Above, you can see the display between the search box and the first non-paid listing from HBO. Expect Google will likely take some flak over an effort to point people to originating content, rather than pirated content, that involves publishers buying ads.
Google also says it is doing new sidebar displays for movies and musicians as you see below, for some queries:
The sidebar display is actually something Google has been testing for months, as we’ve covered before.
For more about the new ad formats, see also our related story Google Testing New Ad Formats For Movies, Music In Anti-Piracy Effort.
The last change is an update to Google’s Autocomplete feature, which suggests search terms as users type in the search box. Google says it will show fewer terms in Autocomplete when those terms produce search results that include a lot of websites with DMCA requests filed against them.
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