The Pirate Bay and Isohunt hit back
Google's plan to target piracy by demoting sites that attract a large number of copyright infringement claims from its search pages will not have much of an effect, according to two well-known file-sharing sites.
The Pirate Bay and Isohunt have dismissed the changes, arguing that users will simply go to their sites directly and that in any case Google was not their main source of traffic. Isohunt owner Gary Fung suggests that less than a quarter of his visitors arrived via the search engine.
A blog post from The Pirate Bay commented: "That Google is putting our links lower is in a way a good thing for us. We'll get more direct traffic when people don't get the expected search result when using Google."
The changes were made after pressure from the media industry, which estimates that many millions are lost as people avoid cinemas, DVD rental stores and pay-per-view television in favour of downloading allegedly illegal streams.
Under the new system, sites which are the target of too many 'valid copyright removal notices' will suffer accordingly in the rankings, although Google is keen to stress that this is just one of many criteria taken into account.
Google insists YouTube is not exempt
However, Fung claims that YouTube will not be hit as hard by the regulations as it is Google-owned and does not feature on their Transparency Report. This is a list of sites which have been highlighted by Google for their high volume of copyright removal requests.
Many YouTube videos are subject to these claims, but Google is adamant that websites under its ownership must still abide by the rules and that any clips making illegal use of copyrighted content would not feature highly on results pages.
It also highlighted the methods which people can use to prevent copyright abuse on YouTube, with their free Content ID tool fingerprinting original work and notifying the copyright holder if it is featured on the site.
Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword, said: "Google is doing its best to try and take on sites that it alleges are infringing copyright, but as we can see many file-sharers are not intimidated by the new regulations as they do not really stop anyone from accessing content."