Google still promoting pirate sites, says stroppy RIAA

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Record labels are accusing Google of continuing to promote pirate sites to the top of search results, despite commitments from the company that it wouldn't do so.

The Recording Industry Association of America has released a report claiming that nothing much has changed since Google promised to crack down on sites engaging in piracy and copyright infringement last year.

It said it would start demoting sites in its search results that receive large numbers of valid copyright-infringement otices.

"This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily — whether it’s a song previewed on NPR’s music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify," said senior vice presidentt of engineering Amit Singhal at the time.

However, says the RIAA, this simply hasn't been happening. The sites it analyzed - all serial infringers, it says - still managed to appear on page one of the search results over 98 percent of the time.

Adding insult to injury, it says, Google's auto-complete function actually suggested infringing sites for 88 percent of searches for MP3s and downloads of popular tracks.

"Unfortunately, our initial analysis concludes that so far Google’s pledge six months ago to demote pirate sites remains unfulfilled," says RIAA EVP and general counsel, Steven Marks.

"Searches for popular music continue to yield results that emphasize illegal sites at the expense of legitimate services, which are often relegated to later pages. And Google’s auto-complete function continues to lead users to many of those same illicit sites."

There's just no pleasing some people.