The RIAA has labeled Google's piracy demotion policy a sham, claiming major music piracy websites have not been demoted, despite thousands of copyrighted content removal requests.
The RIAA presented their evidence in the form of research carried out on what are deemed to be "serial infringers" using Google's own Copyright Transparency Report, and showed that on average, these sites still remained on the first page of search results "over 98 percent of the time" while searching for popular music tracks.
"Whatever Google has done, it doesn’t appear to be working," the report concludes.
Under Google's new demotion policy, websites receiving "significant" amount of copyright removal requests will have this counted as a factor in determining the site's relevance - the more requests, the less "relevant" Google deems these sites. However, this is but one of the thousands of factors, or "signals", that determines the ranking of a web page or a web site. The popularity of the website and the number of incoming links to the website, both likely to be favourable for piracy websites, can be the most important factors for ranking, and as such, the "piracy demotion" signal can be negated in the process.
So even if a piracy demotion has occurred, whether this is enough to push a result out of the first page/top 10 will depend on whether the other signals are strong or weak, and only websites with weak signals will most likely be pushed far enough away from the first page to satisfy the RIAA.
Perhaps as a response to increasing pressures on the Mountain View company to filter more search results, a new report suggests Google is considering working with financial services providers to cut off the funding source for piracy websites. Providers such as PayPal, Visa and Mastercard for example, may receive further information from Google regarding the activities of websites, and then use this information to block or ban websites from using their services.
This move, if true, will seem extremely controversial following the Wikileaks incident in which, under presumed pressure from the US government, PayPal, Visa and Mastercard promptly cut off funding to the whistle-blower website.