Online piracy remains a persistent thorn in the side of copyright holders and content creators. However, internet giants like Google are bolstering their anti-piracy efforts. This article explores the evolving battle against illegal downloading.

Blocking Pirate Sites Before They Spread

In 2022, Google blocked hundreds of millions of infringing URLs worldwide. Crucially, most of these links were preemptively removed before ever appearing in search results.

Copyright holders can now notify Google of infringing pages before they’re indexed. For example, pirates often create sites promoting illegal streams of major live events like World Cup matches. Rights holders can now wipe out these piracy hubs before streams even begin.

Over 40% of the 680 million reported links last year weren’t in Google’s index originally. This preemptive strike capability is not even required by copyright law. It demonstrates Google’s deepening commitment to anti-piracy efforts.

Beyond DMCA: How Google Fights Piracy

Under the DMCA, Google must remove any infringing links when notified by rights holders. However, critics argue this takedown process is inefficient.

In response, Google has implemented additional anti-piracy measures across its services:

  • Demoting pirate sites in search rankings
  • Rolling out anti-piracy algorithms to identify infringing results
  • Removing links through bulk preemptive deletions before indexing
  • Partnering with rights holders to streamline identification of illegal content

Over the past decade, Google has processed over 7 billion DMCA takedown requests. But the company realizes relying solely on this mechanism is inadequate. That’s why we’re seeing an expansion of proactive anti-piracy programs.

The Piracy Arms Race Continues

The cat-and-mouse game between pirates and anti-piracy forces is intensifying:

  • Pirates are building sites faster than ever and hiding behind various technologies like cloud hosting.
  • However, search engines and rights holders are sharing more data and new detection tools to quickly find illegal content.
  • Islands of piracy persist, but the overall landscape is becoming increasingly inhospitable for pirates.
  • Major regulatory changes like the EU’s Digital Services Act will also compel faster takedown of infringing content.

This ongoing arms race means online piracy will remain an evolving threat. But Google and other internet intermediaries are demonstrating a new willingness to directly confront this issue. Sophisticated collaboration between tech companies and content creators is vital to protect legitimate markets.

The value gap between content consumption on ad-supported platforms versus paid services gives pirates an economic advantage. However, collaborative anti-piracy efforts and compelling legal alternatives may slowly erode that gap. There are challenges ahead, but the tides are turning.


What new anti-piracy method does Google use?

Google now preemptively blocks infringing URLs before they appear in search results. Rights holders can notify Google of piracy links before the company indexes them.

How does Google go beyond the DMCA to fight piracy?

In addition to DMCA takedowns, Google demotes pirate sites, develops anti-piracy algorithms, removes links preemptively, and partners with rights holders to identify illegal content faster.

Who typically notifies Google about copyright infringement?

The copyright holders themselves typically notify Google about infringement. These are usually media companies, trade groups, sports leagues, etc. that hold rights to the pirated content.