Last week Google implemented a new search algorithm. The new measure keeps websites for which it receives a high number of takedown requests out of the top results for certain keywords.
The change has hit pirate sites hard. Some sites have lost more than half of all their search engine traffic, which translates to millions of visitors per week.
The key element of the new alghorithm are the DMCA notices. The more a website gets, the less likely it is that the site appears in the top results for various download and streaming related searches.
This has created a new incentive for copyright holders to send more takedown notices, to ensure that no pirate site can fly under the radar. Various rightsholders appear to realize this as the number of DMCA notices Google receives has skyrocketed.
Over the past week the search engine was asked to remove 11,668,660 allegedly infringing URLs. That is nearly double the amount it received earlier this month, and the largest week to week increase ever.
Looking at the sites that are targeted we see that most notices indeed refer to relatively new sites. The top 5 domains last week were conexaomp3.com, vmusice.net, tpbt.org, proxymirror.co and helpamillionpeople.com.
These sites went unnoticed before but all had more than 300,000 URLs removed last week. On the surface helpamillionpeople.com appears to be an odd target, but the site in question runs a Pirate Bay proxy through a subdomain.
The big question now is whether this new takedown surge will pay off.
Of course, copyright holders aren’t under the illusion that Google can eradicate piracy, or even stop those who regularly download or stream content without permission. Their goal is to make pirated content invisible in search results so less people will be drawn to it.
Whether this will decrease piracy rates in the long run is unknown, but judging from the early results it does indeed make it less likely for people to stumble upon pirate sites.