LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—Google Inc. is altering its search results to de-emphasize the websites of repeat copyright offenders and make it easier to find legitimate providers of music, movies and other content.
The move is a peace offering to Hollywood and the music recording labels. This year, Google joined other Silicon Valley heavyweights to help kill legislation that would have given government and content creators more power to shut down foreign websites that promote piracy.
Google typically ranks websites based on how many other sites link to them, on the belief that sites that get more links are more trustworthy and useful. But Google also regularly tweaks its formulas to reflect special circumstances.
In this case, sites with high numbers of copyright-removal notices may get bumped down in rankings. In effect, that will help users find legitimate sources of content without removing any pages from its results completely. Google did not elaborate on what it considers to be valid notices.
Google’s icy relationship with content creators has thawed slightly.
Last month, Google said it would offer a $ 50-per-month TV package over a super-fast fibre network in a Kansas City test bed. The package would offer mainstream channels including Viacom Inc.’s Nickelodeon.