Google has removed the keyword 'BitTorrent' from the list of "bad" piracy words that are filtered out of its search auto-complete and suggestions feature.
The auto-complete feature suggests likely search phrases when users start typing their query into the search box. For example, typing in the keyword "chrome" will list the search terms "chromecast", "chrome store" as possible search phrases.
Google first started censoring its auto-complete feature back in 2011, as a way to appease rights holder concerned about Google's role in helping people find pirated content. Keywords including "The Pirate Bay", "RapidShare" and "Megaupload" were all filtered, and continued to the filtered today. "Torrent" related keywords, such as "uTorrent" and "BitTorrent" were also filtered.
The only problem? BitTorrent is the name of a legitimate company (BitTorrent Inc) that publishes the official BitTorrent client and operates the legitimate BitTorrent download network. A fact that has been made better known by a recent, intense, and at times overzealous media campaign by BitTorrent Inc to distance itself from the use of the piracy laced term "torrent". And it appears the media attention has worked, now that Google has removed "BitTorrent" from the keyword filter.
The act may placate BitTorrent Inc, but it may anger rights holders concerned that Google is going back on its commitment to fight Internet piracy. They may have a point, as if you do a search for "Homeland" and and add the keyword "bit", Google immediately suggests search terms such as "bittorrent homeland season 1" and "bittorrent homeland s02e01", terms that all subsequently brought up piracy related results.
The timing of this change to auto-complete may also seem odd, given that the MPAA, Hollywood's trade lobby, only last week labelled Google a "gateway" to pirated content.