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Google, Bing Anti-Piracy Agreement: 'Neutral' Searches, Domain Hopping Addressed

Posted by: , 13:24 AEDT, Sun March 12, 2017

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More details revealed about Google/Bing's industry first anti-piracy agreement with rights-holders
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The industry first anti-piracy deal between Google, Bing and rights-holders has generated a lot of interest from consumer groups worried about the freedom of the Internet, to rights-holders worried that it doesn't do enough. But thanks for freedom of information requests from digital advocacy groups EFF Digital Rights Ireland, more details about the highly secretive deal has just been revealed.

Neutral Keywords

The heavily redacted document obtained by the EFF and Digital Rights Ireland make multiple mentions of something referred to as "neutral" keywords. These are keywords that do not have a piracy leaning, but despite this, search results will be manipulated to demote pirate related results and promote legal links. Manipulation of auto-complete terms will occur for neutral keywords as well, the document revealed.

Sharing of User Data

Controversially, both Google and Bing have committed to sharing user behaviour data with rights-holders, in order for the parties involved to "know your enemy" better.

"Search engines and rights holders will exchange detailed information on a confidential basis in order to better understand how users are searching for content," the document reads.

Domain Hopping

With piracy domains being demoted, it's expected the operators of these domains will switch to "clean" domains to regain ranking. Both search engines and rights-holders have agreed to efforts to curb this kind of behaviour.

"All parties will work with the [Intellectual Property Office] to evaluate how frequently copyright infringing websites, subjected to demotion, change their top-level domain (TLD), but otherwise retain substantially the same identity," the agreement reads.

"If this activity is sufficiently widespread as to justify it, search engines and rights holders should develop a process whereby rights holders can notify search engines of the occurrence so that, when verified, such domains can be appropriately demoted."

It's Not All Our Fault

While almost all of the concessions being made in the agreement are by the search engines, both Microsoft and Google have made it clear that rights-holders may be to blame for the lack of legal links in search results.

Rights-holders will agree to take into consideration the existence of legitimate sites and whether proper search engine optimisation techniques have been used, before laying the blame on the search engines.

And finally, it appears that those not signed up to this voluntarily agreement may also be able to "benefit" from any progress made as a result of this agreement, with all parties agreeing to share related non-confidential information with other search engines and rights-holders.

The full, redacted, agreement can be read here.

[via TorrentFreak]


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