Google is embarking on a campaign to crack down on piracy with changes to its policies and search engine that will make it harder to find and profit from copyright-infringing sites.

Google’s ubiquity as a search engine can be neatly summed up by the fact that its name has become a verb. But with great power comes great responsibility and so it is that over the next several months, Google will implement four changes to its service that it hopes will reduce copyright infringement on the net.

First on the list is a pledge to improve the DMCA takedown request process for rightsholders and reduce the average response time on “reliable copyright takedown requests” to 24 hours or less. At the same time, “counter-notice tools” will also be improved and takedown requests will be made publicly searchable, and DMCA procedures will be put to use in an effort to identify infringing sites that use Google’s AdSense program and give them the boot where necessary.

The Google search engine will also be changed to prevent Autocompletion of terms “closely associated with piracy,” and to make “authorized preview content” more accessible in search results.

Speaking in a conference call with Music Ally, Simon Morrison, the copyright, policy and communications manager at Google EMEA, said the changes will simply assist with weeding out infringing content but won’t actually have any impact on the search results unless and until Google receives a DMCA takedown notice. “Today’s announcement is in part about making that [takedown] process more efficient for rightsowners. It is not about altering the search results,” he said. “Those [infringing] sites won’t be removed from the search results. The search results will stay the same.”

He acknowledged that the new takedown tools could be more open to “abuse” but said Google is determined to stay neutral and maintain the balance between users and rightsholders. “If we would take down anything that someone sent, we’d enter a situation in which it would be easier for them [rightsholders] to be lazy about it, and to blanket-ask,” he explained. “We need to be very precise: we are taking down infringing content, but we are not hurting users who are doing things perfectly legally. It is important to strike that balance.”

To learn more about the upcoming changes to Google’s copyright infringment policies, check out the Google Public Policy Blog.

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