Google in the third week of October 2014 announced changes to its search engine in an attempt to curb online piracy and highlight legal sites.
Measures taken by Google
The new measures will direct the users towards legal alternatives such as Spotify and Google Play. Google will now list these legal services in a box at the top of the search results as well as in a box on the right-hand side of the page.
However, legal sites that want to be highlighted in this way will have to pay Google as they would for any other advertisement.
Moreover, Google also added extra measures to filter its search results so that links containing illegal content come at the lower places in results while legal sites float to the top.
The legal options will now appear at the top of the page. For instance, on YouTube its Content ID system is able to detect the use of copyrighted material in the videos that offer the choice to music labels of having their content removed or monetising it by placing its advertisement.
Piracy often arises when consumer demand goes unmet by legitimate supply. The best way to combat piracy is with better and more convenient legitimate services.
Reaction of British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on the measures undertaken by Google
Music trade group the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) was broadly pleased with Google's changes but it did not agree with Google decision to charge sites for their placement.
BPI urged Google to use the machine-readable data on the Music Matters web portal which lists all services licensed in the UK. It should promote the legal services and show them in the search using appropriate weighting applied fairly and equally across services.
Other combative measures pressed by the BPI include the blocking of websites such as the Pirate Bay so that UK internet users cannot visit the site unless they are using specialist software.
The BPI will continue to meet with the search engines and government to ensure these measures make a real difference and will persuade Bing and Yahoo to take similar action.
• The BPI made 43.3 million requests for Google to remove search results in 2013.
• Google removed 222 million results from search because of copyright infringement.
• Google's Content ID system which detects copyrighted material scans 400 years-worth of video every day.
• 300 million videos have been claimed by rights holders which means that they can place advertising on them.
Earlier Google was criticised for enabling people to find sites and download illegal content. The entertainment industry argued that the illegal sites should be demoted in search results.
The music industry was infuriated by the way in which a search on Google for listen to Katy Perry, or any artist would sometimes produce results pointing to places to download content illegally.
Often, the illegal sites would rank higher than official outlets such as iTunes. Google has gradually backed down and implemented some measures to negate such instances.