It seems like a good idea in principle, assuming you believe that copyright infringement is wrong and should be discouraged, the idea is that if a website has a large number of copyright infringement removal notices against it they will be punished with lower rankings and it could well be that links from these sites will also loose trust. Google say that they will only consider valid copyright removal notices but how they will tell if a notice is valid or malicious is another matter.
Previously Google used the Copyright removal requests they received only to remove specific pages that showed or linked to copyrighted materials.
Some suggested that Google’s haste to introduce Penguin meant they didn’t consider issues such as malicious linking to adversely affect rival’s rankings due to SEO algorithm changes. Now some feel they may be about to do the same again with the announcement that their search Algorithm changes again this week and copyright removal notices will now affect rankings for entire sites. This means for a start you need to watch out if your blog for example is within a domain that others may use for more nefarious purposes.
The SEO Algorithm change was announced by Amit Singhal who says he hopes the change will ‘help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily’ the copyright removals notices received by Google now number around 4.3 million a month and they can be submitted by anyone who claims to be a copyright owner suggesting there could be misuse though each removal notice is processed before use.
One area where a lot of people are especially concerned is with fair use policy; copyrighted material can be used for fair use such as to illustrate a point where no other material could be used instead, this therefore includes quotes and short sound and video clips as well as unique images. These cases are often disagreed on though and often websites and other publications will go to court and often win: from now on they may have already have been penalized by Google; free speech is according to some at threat.
To give an example the new SEO Algorithm may pick up a political news site where leaked documents are shown on a regular basis: the site may claim fair use but several different politicians may use copyright removal notices, enough for the SEO algorithm on Google to penalize a legitimate website.
Then there is the fact that Google own and run one of the biggest copyright infringing sites there is: Youtube. Now Youtube do respond to Copyright notices, though not always immediately, how long will Google give a website then to take down copyrighted content to avoid being penalized or will they penalize their own websites as well? Others haven’t been slow to comment on the fact that Youtube may be the biggest beneficiary of all from other free entertainment sources being pushed down the results.
Google will most likely deal with copyright in a level headed way but the fear of such a powerful company getting involved in what some see as legal matters to be dealt with by the courts can’t help but raise a few eyebrows.