Last year Google changed its search algorithm in a way that was supposed to demote the rankings of websites that had been identified as persistent copyright violators. But there’s “no evidence” that the change has affected search-driven traffic to the sites, the MPAA says today based on a study it commissioned to follow up on the matter. “The share of referral traffic from Google to infringing sites included in the Google Transparency Report remained flat in the three months following Google’s implementation of the change last August.” This is important, MPAA chief Chris Dodd says, because search engines “bear responsibility for introducing people to infringing content — even people who aren’t actively looking for it.” Research firm Compete Inc. studied how many Internet users accessed URLs of 12M film and TV content sites that had hosted infringing content from 2010-2012, but not P2P sites or applications. It found that Google accounted for 82% of the queries that led people to the sites. In addition, 58% of the searches leading to the sites “contained only general keywords — such as the titles of recent films or TV shows, or phrases related to watching films or TV online — and not specific keywords aimed at finding illegitimate content.” U.S. Reps. Howard Coble, Adam Schiff, Marsha Blackburn and Judy Chu joined Dodd in calling on search engine providers to do more to reduce traffic to copyright offenders.
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