Websites with a high volume of valid copyright infringement claims will be subject to a new Google penalty. It’s part of an effort aimed reducing the record number of copyright complaints Google has been fielding the last couple of years.

The announcement came from Google’s Senior VP of Engineering, Amit Singhal who said:

Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results. This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily—whether it’s a song previewed on NPR’s music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify.

Hollywood Cheers New Penalty

Google’s been under real pressure from copyright holders, and their lawyers, to crack down on copyright infringement whenever possible. Last year the company received around 4.3 million of these complaints a month. That’s more than they received all year in 2009.

A spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) cheered the move, but others were skeptical of both Google’s motives and the potential for misuse. Remember, Google has a major interest in properties like Google Play and YouTube that work in direct competition with file sharing sites.

Some critics have also suggested that sites that aren’t knowingly involved in copyright infringement, like file upload tools, could be ensnared in the same net as guilty parties.

What do you think of Google’s latest penalty? Will it punish guilty parties or drag down innocents? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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