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Research Finds that Search Engines Do Not Actively Promote Pirated Content

Google and PiracyA study released by the Computer and Communications Industry Association has concluded that search engines are being wrongly implicated in the fight against online piracy.

The study challenges the long-held perception that search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing are somewhat responsible for the rise in unlicensed content being shared on the web, by providing visibility to websites that host unlawful or copyright-
infringing content.

According to the paper, the idea that eliminating unlawful websites from search engine results will substantially reduce piracy activity is “flawed”, as the infringing websites in question actually receive very little traffic via search engines.

Ratings from website evaluation service Alexa show that the Pirate Bay gains just eight per cent of its overall website traffic via Google, while Isohunt not only receives very little traffic via search engines, but could probably “survive even a complete search engine ban”.

To back up its arguments, the paper cites a study that looked at the introduction of licensed entertainment services to Norway, namely TV/film subscription service Netflix, and music streaming platform Spotify. When these services were made available within the country, Norway experienced an 80 per cent drop in music piracy, and a 50 per cent decrease in online video piracy.

Matt Schruers, who wrote the research paper, says: “Many music sites now demonstrate an acute awareness of the importance of a strong digital presence, and generally demonstrate effective organic and paid search optimisation.

“Searches for such terms as ‘music downloads’ indicate that lawful platforms such as Spotify, Last.fm, and Rdio aggressively seek to optimise their organic (i.e. ‘natural’) search results as well as paid search advertising for such terms, including terms that might otherwise lead to unlicensed sites.”

The moral of the story here seems to be, if you are providing an honest, lawful service, with a high quality website, and are following best SEO practices, the search engines will always look upon your websites favourably.


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