Google Removes Piracy-Related Terms From Instant Search


As it promised in early December, Google has begun to remove terms associated with piracy from producing search results in Google Instant Search, and from appearing in Google Suggest. That includes searches involving the word “torrent” as well as “BitTorrent,” which is both the name of a company in San Francisco that produces torrent software, as well as the peer-to-peer sharing protocol itself.

Google promised this was coming in a December 2, 2010 blog post that addressed several issues related to copyright protection. The company said it would remove terms like this from autocomplete:

We will prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete. While it’s hard to know for sure when search terms are being used to find infringing content, we’ll do our best to prevent Autocomplete from displaying the terms most frequently used for that purpose.

Google’s move, though, seems to be catching some unrelated terms in the process. One of the terms on Google’s list is “rapidshare,” the name of a file-hosting web site. But searchers now can’t get Instant Search results for common words and phrases that begin with “rapid” or “rapids.”


The bigger issue aside from possibly overzealous filtering is that torrents are not inherently illegal. It’s a protocol that can be used illegally, but also has very legitimate uses, too. Likewise, RapidShare and sites like it can also be used for completely legal purposes.

BitTorrent, the San Francisco company, isn’t too happy with this move. VP Simon Morris told how the company feels:

“We respect Google’s right to determine algorithms to deliver appropriate search results to user requests. That being said, our company’s trademarked name is fairly unique, and we’re pretty confident that anyone typing the first six or seven letters deserves the same easy access to results as with any other company search,” Morris said.

We’ve reached out to Google for clarification on this and will update the post if and when we hear back.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Instant | Google: Legal | Google: Suggest | Legal: Copyright | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.

Comments are closed.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide