Google Begins Filtering Cyberlocker, BitTorrent Search Results

Google Begins Filtering Cyberlocker, BitTorrent Search Results

Follows through on promise it made last month “prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete.”

It seems Google is making good on the promise it made last month to “better address” what it calls the “bad apples who use the Internet to infringe copyright.”

The search engine giant’s four part plan for “Making Copyright Work Better Online” included a pledge to “prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete,” and now it has done just that.

Unfortunately, it chose terms without any sort of feedback by users nor with any sensible criteria for what should be included. It banned the terms BitTorrent, uTorrent, Rapidshare, and Megaupload for example, but still allows Vuze, Transmission, The Pirate Bay, and Mediafire. In fact, BitTorrent and uTorrent seems to be the sole BitTorrent clients that has been banned from Autocomplete.

BitTorrent Inc. rightly finds the filtering overly aggressive, especially since it singles out the company’s legally trademarked name of all things.

“We respect Google’s right to determine algorithms to deliver appropriate search results to user requests,” BitTorrent VP Simon Morris told TF. “That being said, our company’s trademarked name is fairly unique, and we’re pretty confident that anyone typing the first six or seven letters deserves the same easy access to results as with any other company search.”

He pointed out that there are plenty of likewise legitimate BitTorrent search results and that will be affected by the new Autocomplete filter.

As for Megaupload winding up on the wrong side of the filter the cyberlocker is probably rethinking the recent comments it made about Google also being a “rogue site” which users are able to use for copyright infringement.

“Google probably hosts the world’s largest index of pirated content,” it asked. “What makes them non-rogue?”

Rapidshare is certain to find the filtering particularly offensive being that German courts have repeatedly determined that third parties using the service, and not the site itself, are the ones making copyrighted material “publicly available” and therefore guilty of infringement.

It even took a page from the playbook of its copyright holder critics and hired a Washington, DC-based lobbying firm to convince members of Congress bent on filtering the site via the proposed Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeit Act (COICA) that it caters mainly to “legitimate interests.”

Rapidshare may now want to send the same lobbying outfit to Google HQ to plead its case there.

In the meantime, it’ll be interesting to see where Google goes from here. Now that the search engine giant has established a baseline for preventing terms it believes are “being used to find infringing content” from appearing in Autocomplete when will it add more and what will they be?

Stay tuned.

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