22 Aug 2012
Copyright Infringement Can Now Affect Your Ranking on Google
It is common knowledge that you should do your research before positing material to your site that may be copyrighted. When you post information that could potentially infringe on copyrights, or allow other users to do so, you risk being reprimanded or even facing legal consequences. Now Google is giving you even more reasons to be extra cautious when treading near this type of content.
Google owns the majority of the market share of search engine companies today – almost 70 percent to be precise. Their high status makes them a target in regards to promoting copyrighted material, and in order to watch their own backs they have been forced to make some drastic changes. Recent updates to Google’s search algorithm may prove to have serious repercussions for offending businesses.
Google announced that moving forward they will be taking note of the number of valid copyright violations a website receives. A website may receive a copyright violation for posting materials like video, music or photos to which they should not have free access. As these violations stack up, it’s possible that their business may appear lower in the search results when a user enters a query, or their listings may be excluded from the search results entirely. This could be very dramatic for companies who reply heavily on online searches to gain access to new customers and sales.
A rights holder can file a copyright removal notice if they discover that their content has been used without prior consent, or if they believe this might be the case. This can include photos, video, writing samples, audio recordings, etc. This means that by even posting a YouTube video on your blog that uses a copyrighted song without permission or featuring a stock image that you didn’t pay for, could ultimately hurt your placement in Google search results. This of course can then damage your activity and sales for the coming months.
And don’t think that these right holders are lazy on the reporting side – Google has logged more than 4.6 million copyright removal notices in the last month alone. This number is huge compared to their list from 2009. The full log can be examined in The Google Transparency Report which is located at the following URL: http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/.
These reports are most commonly filed by folks in the entertainment industry (music, photography, etc.) however, any rights holder has the ability to file a request to have information removed from your site if you are in fact in violation. This accessibility means you should be even more adamant about filtering the type of content that makes it to your website.
If you already know that pirated content is appearing on your site, make it a priority to remove it immediately. The sooner it comes down, the less likely you are to feel the potentially crippling effects. You can plan monthly audits with your team to ensure that new content remains outside the grounds for violation. Another great way to avoid running into this problem is to carefully protect your business within the wording of your terms and conditions. Make any visitors to your site agree to the terms and conditions before they can post on their own. By doing so, you are lifting the responsibility off of your shoulders and putting it on that of the individual.
Be aware that other businesses may be taking advantage of Google’s new rules to wreak havoc on your site. It has been reported that some people are filing false claims in an effort to improve their positions in search results. Google has become smart to this kind of poor practice, and people who violate the take down requests may also see negative impacts in their positions.
It is all self-explanatory, but take the proper steps to protect yourself against posting pirated material. The potential outcome of being excluded from search results is just not worth it. Take responsibility by planning regular audits, and removing any content that looks suspicious. Be detailed when preparing your sites’ terms and conditions to avoid feeling the negative effects of Google’s new take down system on your business.