Google beefs up copyright policing

Google has announced a raft of changes that it hopes will help get the copyright brigade on its side - including plans to expedite requests for the removal of copyright content hosted on Google's services.

Google's general counsel Kent Walker detailed the plans in an announcement on the company's Public Policy Blog, where he explains that "along with this new wave of creators come some bad apples who use the Internet to infringe copyright" - something Google is taking very seriously indeed.

It's a major problem for the company, which makes its vast income from advertising - meaning it has to keep the big corporates on-side or it ceases to exist as a viable commercial entity. The sheer scale of Google's hosting services - with around 35 hours of footage uploaded to the company's YouTube video sharing site every single minute - means that infringement will happen, and the company has to be seen to be 'doing something.'

The 'something', in this case, appears to be a combination of making authorised content more readily available and making it easier for companies to request the removal of unauthorised content without a court order.

Walker explains that his company plans to "improve the submission process to make it easier for rights holders to submit DMCA takedown requests for Google products," promising that the company will act on 'reliable' requests within 24 hours of submission by taking down the offending content and alerting the uploader as to the alleged infringement.

More insidiously, Google will be adjusting its autocomplete algorithm, preventing "terms that are closely associated with piracy" from appearing. What this means for the average end-user is that if you start typing 'bittore' into Google, it'll no longer ask if you mean 'bittorrent.' The company hasn't detailed exactly what 'terms closely associated with piracy' will be part of that blacklist.

The company's lucrative AdSense programme, which allows websites to host text-based pay-per-click adverts to generate income, will be barred from appearing on sites that "provide infringing materials." While this has always been the case, the company will be upping its enforcement of the rule - and checking each DMCA request to see if the alleged infringer is registered with AdSense.

It's not all doom and gloom for those who just like to listen to music or watch videos on the 'net, however: Walker explains that the guys at Google are "big fans of making authorised content more accessible on the Internet," claiming that the company will be taking steps to ensure that it's easy to find content that has been uploaded with the rights holders' permission.

Changes to the DMCA counter-notice programme are also afoot, allowing those whose uploads have been deep-sixed by a take-down notice to request a review - and a declaration that all DMCA take-down notices will be made publicly searchable for transparency.

All in all, it's a mixed bag - but one that the true pirates are likely to largely ignore.