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Last spring Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt dealt authors and publishers a staggering blow by declaring his absolute opposition to any effort to curtail Google’s right to link to piracy websites like Pirate Bay. He said it in such unequivocal terms that we concluded it was time for legitimate copyright owners to throw in their cards. “Any author cherishing a shred of hope for the protection of his or her rights is spitting in the wind,” we lamented. (See Game Over: Google Insists on Linking to Pirate Sites)
But Amy Chozick of the New York Times says the wind at Google has shifted. Yielding to pressure from motion picture, recording and other media interest groups who are being robbed blind by pirates, Google softened its opposition to altering the algorithms that point indiscriminately to illegal file-sharing websites. “Google said that beginning next week its algorithms would take into account the number of valid copyright removal notices Web sites have received,” reports Chozick. “Web sites with multiple, valid complaints about copyright infringement may appear lower in Google search results.”
To give you a sense of “multiple, valid complaints”, Chozick writes that Google “received copyright removal requests for over 4.3 million Web addresses in the last 30 days, according to the company’s transparency report. That is more than it received in all of 2009.”
Google’s reversal stands in vivid contrast to the populist uprising that culminated in a Wikipedia blackout last January when media giants lobbied Congress to pass an antipiracy bill. Google and Facebook led the charge, congress chickened out, and the proposed legislation collapsed. (See Don’t Worry, Pirates, Google Has Your Back)
“Google has signaled a new willingness to value the rights of creators,” said a recording industry executive.