Google to block piracy-related terms in autocomplete

Over the next few months Google will be making changes to its search service in order to fight copyright infringement, most notably removing piracy-related terms from autocomplete.

Google will be making changes to its search service over the next few months in order to fight copyright infringement.

The most important change will be to prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in autocomplete. The fellas at Google haven't specified what these terms might be, saying only that they will, "do our best to prevent autocomplete from displaying terms most frequently used for that purpose."

We'd hazard a guess terms such as 'torrent' and 'keygen' will be first on the chopping block. Note that Google won't be excluding these terms from actual search results, it just won't bring them up in autocomplete when you start typing in your search query.

It might not sound dramatic, but it's still an important move. After all, from Google's point of view everyone who uses the search engine is a customer, even if they're searching for copyright-infringing material. Plus Google is so vast even the most minor of changes can potentially alter the online landscape.

The music industry doesn't think the move is enough. A spokesman for the British Phonographic Industry told the BBC, "It is encouraging that Google is beginning to respond to our calls and act more responsibly with regard to illegal content.

"However, this package of measures still ignores the heart of the problem -- that Google search overwhelmingly directs consumers looking for music and other digital entertainment to illegal sites."

We can't help but feel that if the music industry was making more of an effort to make content available legally and affordably, perhaps people wouldn't be searching for pirated material in the first place. Google's priority is to deliver people the webpages they want -- the onus is on content providers to make people want to search out legal material.

Google has also said it will try to act on copyright takedown requests within 24 hours, and will improve its anti-piracy review measures for its AdSense programme.

Google will also be experimenting to make authorised content more readily available in preview.

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About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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