Rankings of sites featuring pirated films to be punished by Google

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Search engine Google is set to make a number of alterations to its search results, which will in-effect punish the rankings of websites that provide pirated films and music.

Websites that illegally featured copyrighted material are typically issued with a copyright removal notice. With the alterations, Google will, from next week, begin taking "valid copyright removal notices" into account when ranking sites in its search results, according to the senior vice president of engineering, Amit Singhal.

The decision has been seen as many as a peace-offering to the film and music industries. Earlier in the year (2012) the search engine grouped with a number of tech giants to help to prevent the  government from passing legislation that would have given it more power to shut down foreign websites promoting piracy.

Singhal wrote in a blog post published on the company's official blog: "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.

"Since we re-booted our copyright removals over two years ago, we've been given much more data by copyright owners about infringing content online. In fact, we're now receiving and processing more copyright removal notices every day than we did in all of 2009 - more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone," he added.

In a statement, Michael O'Leary, executive president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), reacted cautiously to the announcement.

He said: "We will be watching this development closely - the devil is always in the details."

Popular with those operating search engine marketing initiatives, Google is yet to specify what it considers to be valid copyright removal notices.

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