RIAA report says Google not demoting pirate site results

Org says infringers continue to appear in majority of searches

The Recording Industry Assn. of America said that it has found “no evidence” that Google’s pledge to demote pirated music sites in search results is working.

The RIAA released results of a report that showed that “serial infringers” were “not demoted in any significant way” and appeared on the first page of search results 98% of the time in the searches they conducted. Authorized sites like iTunes, Amazon and eMusic appeared in the top ten results in only “a little more than half of the searches” that they conducted.

Google announced in August that, in evaluating how to rank search results, it was taking into account the number of copyright removal notices it receives for a site. Their announcement was greeted by the entertainment industry, which as long pressed the search giant to change its algorithms, but trade associations said that the proof would be in how the policy was carried out.

The RIAA analysis was of the top 50 tracks on the Billboard Hot 100 list as of Dec. 3, and it was conducted over a period of several weeks that month. They also analyzed how many copyright removal requests Google had received for the sites that showed up in the search results.

The RIAA said that even the “sample sites” that had more than 100,000 copyright removal requests “were almost 4 times more likely to show up in a top 10 search result than a well-known, authorized digital music download site for those queries.” It cited as examples sites like 4shared.com and audiko.com.

The trade association also said that for 88% of searches for mp3s and downloads of tracks, Google’s autocomplete function suggested search terms associated with sites for which it has received “multiple notices of infringement.”

“We have invested heavily in copyright tools for content owners and process takedown notices faster than ever. In the last month we received more than 14 million copyright removal requests for Google Search, quickly removing more than 97% from search results. In addition, Google’s growing partnerships and distribution deals with the content industry benefit both creators and users, and generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the industry each year,” said a spokesperson for Google.