Thursday, January 27, 2011

Google begins filtering references to RapidShare, BitTorrent, more

As we noted before, Google is still one of the more popular ways to find pirated material, and they've finally caved, at least somewhat, to the pressures of the RIAA and MPAA. Starting on Wednesday, quietly, Google began filtering references to BitTorrent and RapidShare from its Instant Search and Autocomplete features.

To be honest, it's not like Google did that great a job on closing down the piracy possibilities. As TorrentFreak notes, while they cut out such upload sites as MegaUpload and Rapidshare, other sites such as 4shared, HotFile and MediaFire are not.

Meanwhile, while the change affects such software as the popular uTorrent, and the term BitTorrent itself, it doesn't seem to cover other such software as BitComet and BitLord, for example. It's a fact not lost on Simon Morris, VP of Product Management at BitTorrent. He said:
“There’s no reason for Google to throttle search results for our trademarks, including BitTorrent, ĀµTorrent and torrent. Indeed, they do still enable autocomplete for many third-party clients that use the BitTorrent protocol, including BitComet, BitLord, and even sites like The Pirate Bay and Isohunt.”
RapidShare also commented. The company said:
“We knew about Google’s plans for quite a few weeks now. We embrace that certain search suggestions will not put a wrong complexion on RapidShare anymore, but we are concerned that at the same time the legitimate interests of our users will also be affected. We believe it was the wrong decision to remove the term ‘RapidShare’ from the search suggestions.

“RapidShare is one of the most popular websites worldwide. Every day hundreds of thousands of users rely on our services to pursue their perfectly legitimate interests. That is why Google has obviously gone too far with censoring the results of its suggest algorithm. A search engine’s results should reflect the users’ interests and not Google’s or anybody else’s.”
Realistically, of course, this is only a "soft block" of the sites. You can still find them by completing the search query terms yourself. You just aren't able to get Autocomplete or Instant Search results. It is possible Google will expand the blockage to completely exclude sites from search results? Probably not. What we've seen is probably the furthest Google will go, an olive branch that is somewhat annoying, but not something that can't be worked around.

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