The War On Links

shutterstock_104739881-fear-of-links In case you didn't notice, we are waging a war over links. Some would say that SEOs are at war with search engines, but I disagree. Search engines and SEOs have a symbiotic relationship; and without meaning to, we've killed the value of the link. The link, once a simple connector from one site to another, has become the subject of intense scrutiny by SEOs, Google, and even the US Copyright Office.  Do you remember what it was like to really "surf" the Internet? The way you could bounce from site to site simply by following blogrolls and webrings? The rush of energy and excitement that [...]


Tweet Showing How Google Itself Is A “Scraper Site” Goes Massively Viral

gone-viral-600 Perhaps it's SEO's "Oreo moment," a tweet relating to search engine optimization that's gained nearly as much attention as Oreo's famous Super Bowl blackout tweet. But the subject was a perfect storm of goodness -- a real-life example of Google doing the type of thing in search it seems to be telling others not to do. Yesterday, the head of Google's web spam team Matt Cutts announced a new Google Scraper Report for publishers to use if they see a site that has copied or "scraped" its content and which outranks the publisher in Google searches. That quickly brought up a number of people j [...]


French Court Orders Google, ISPs To Block Or Delist Video Sites

Google Europe The High Court of Paris recently decided that French ISPs and search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing) must completely block access or remove 16 copyright-infringing video sites from their indexes and search results. The case was originally filed in 2011. The successful plaintiffs were several France-based film and TV trade associations, including L’Association des Producteurs de Cinéma and La Fédération Nationale des Distributeurs de Films. These groups represented a range of producer interests including American film studios. Below are the domains that Google et al must now complet [...]


MPAA: 82 Percent Of Searches Leading To Pirated Content Come From Google

piracy-cd-music-featured The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) today accused Google and other search engines of playing "a significant role" in directing consumers to pirated movies and TV shows, with a special callout for the amount of Google searches that lead to infringing material. It's the latest volley in a long-running battle between Hollywood and the search engines over the easy online availability of stolen content and whose job it is to clean up the problem. MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd -- the former US Senator -- introduced the results of a new study during a news conference today in Washington [...]


Could You Walk In Google’s Shoes? Making Tough Calls With Search Listings

It's pretty easy to sit back and slam Google for how you think it should make decisions when it comes to search listings. It's much harder to actually make those decisions, when you have a deeper understanding of all the implications involved. To experience this better, here's a chance to put yourself in Google's shoes and make some of the tough decisions. Below is a video from a special session we did at our SMX West search marketing conference earlier this year. Patrick Thomas, Google's search policy specialist and Matt Cutts, the head of Google's web spam fighting team, suggested a v [...]


How to Recover When Your Content Is Stolen

dmca-google Last month, I shared a case study of a client I'm currently working with on a duplicate content issue. It turns out that this particular site had significantly lost rankings over the past year because of other sites "lifting" their content, often verbatim, causing the client's site to lose rankings through Panda updates. This is a common problem for content producers. You produce great content only to have other sites disregard copyright and repurpose the content on their own sites -- without attribution. I see this often in the case of associations and non-profits that may be producing val [...]


Bing Reports They Receive Hundreds Of Thousands Of DMCA Complaints Every Month

google-bing-piracy-featured Because of its share of the search market, Google is most frequently targeted by copyright holders filing DMCA complaints, but the search giant is not the only one managing requests to remove unlawful links from search results. TorrentFreak reports Bing not only receives a great number of takedown notices monthly, but Microsoft submits DMCA complaints to its own search engine, as well as others. "Each month, Bing receives DMCA notices from a variety of copyright owners that seek removal of hundreds of thousands of URLs," said a Microsoft spokesperson. According to TorrentFreak, while Micros [...]


New Research Says Search Engines Have Little To Do With Promoting Pirated Content

google-bing-piracy-featured A new research paper authored by Matt Schruers and published by the Computer & Communications Industry Association argues that search engines have been unfairly targeted in the quest to impede online copyright infringement. According to the paper, the perception is that search engines are the primary culprit in copyright infringement cases, offering visibility to unlawful and pirated content. But, Schruers writes, "the contention that disappearing undesirable entries from search results would substantially prevent piracy is flawed" and "the solutions to online infringement have little t [...]


German Publishers Opt-In To Google News — For The Moment

Google legal Following the enactment of a controversial copyright law in Germany, Google said that it would require publishers to formally "opt-in" to Google News or be excluded from results. Accordingly major German publishers have decided to do so -- for now. The new law, which went into effect today and gives publishers almost total control over the use of their content, still allows news aggregators and search engines to show “single words” and modest “text excerpts” but creates legal uncertainty and potential liability for those who misinterpret the rules. What qualifies as a "text excer [...]


Google Continues Censoring Piracy-Related Search Suggestions By Blocking Grooveshark

google-search-censored-featured TorrentFreak reports Google has added another website to the piracy block list for their instant search suggestions. The site is named Grooveshark, which is a popular free music streaming service. Google would not comment specifically about Grooveshark, but told TorrentFreak, "our algorithms prevent terms closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete." Back in January 2011, Google began filtering piracy related terms from their instant search suggestions. Google said then that they will "prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete. [...]


Google’s Schmidt: Hollywood Should Take Content Pirates To Court

copyright-piracy-featured Google's Eric Schmidt says that the entertainment industry should focus on taking content pirates to court, rather than just trying to get Google (and other search engines) to remove pirate sites from search results. His comments, reported by Variety, came yesterday during an impromptu chat with reporters at an annual financial conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. "The industry would like us to edit the web and literally delete sites, and that goes counter to our philosophy," Schmidt is quoted as saying. But Google does remove pages. The company announced at the end of 2012 that it had r [...]


State AGs: Google Still Allows & Profits From Illegal Drug Ads

Google legal The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is accusing Google of continuing to give consumers access to illegal and counterfeit goods -- including drugs -- in its search results, and is allowing sites that deal in such goods to advertise with Google. NAAG has asked Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page to discuss its concerns at a national meeting of state attorneys general that's happening June 17-19 in Boston. There's no formal statement that I can find on the NAAG website, but both USA Today and the Mississippi Business Journal are quoting that state's AG, Jim Hood, co-chair [...]


Google Refuses Hollywood Studio Requests To De-List File Storage Site Mega

dmca-google In recent weeks, Hollywood studios NBC Universal and Warner Bros both submitted DMCA takedown requests asking Google to de-list the file storage website Mega from its search index. According to a report on TorrentFreak, NBC Universal claimed Mega's homepage  linked to the NBC-owned film Mama, while Warner Bros alleged Mega made pirated copies of its film Gangster Squad available from its website. Since Mega's homepage doesn't link to any files, Google did not remove the website from its search index. Launched in January of this year, Mega is the successor site of Megaupload, a fil [...]


Hollywood Asks Google To Stop Listing Piracy Documentary, Claiming It’s Piracy Too

dmca-google The recently released TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay - Away from Keyboard, a documentary that sympathizes with the founders of the infamous file sharing website The Pirate Bay, has become the target of fraudulent link takedown requests from major Hollywood Studios, including Viacom, Paramount, Fox and Lionsgate. After its February release on The Pirate Bay website under a Creative Commons license making it free to download, Google has received multiple DMCA takedown requests asking that links to the film be removed from search results. The requests came through anti-piracy firms representing th [...]


German “Ancillary Copyright” Law To Go Into Effect, Imposes Limits On Search Results

Google legal According to a report from IDG News, a "toned down" version of an earlier, more restrictive "ancillary copyright" law has been published in Germany and will go into effect in August. The ”ancillary copyright” rule was proposed in August of 2012. In its initial form it would have required Google and others that indexed or aggregated news to pay for links or excerpts from those news items -- essentially a "link tax." The law was pushed by German magazine and newspaper publishers that see the Internet and Google, in particular, as the cause of many of their subscription, readership and [...]


Google Avoids Link Tax But Ambiguous New “Ancillary Copyright” Law Sets Up Legal Battle To Come

Google Germany In August of last year, a number of German lawmakers were pressing proposed "ancillary copyright" legislation that would have required Google and others that indexed or aggregated news to pay for links or excerpts from those news items. The proposed law was championed by German magazine and newspaper publishers who, like their counterparts in the US, are seeing declining readership and ad sales. The law did pass in the German parliament, but Bloomberg reports that a compromise reached earlier this week stayed in. That compromise will allow Google (and others) "to display 'single word [...]


New German Law Will Allow Free “Snippets” By Search Engines, But Uncertainty Remains

Google Germany The good news for search engines like Google is a proposed German copyright law won't require them to pay to show short summaries of news content. However, uncertainty remains about how much might be "too much" and require a license. The new law is expected to pass on Friday. NOTE: See our follow-up story from today: Google Avoids Link Tax But Ambiguous New “Ancillary Copyright” Law Sets Up Legal Battle To Come Der Spiegel explains more about the change: "Google will still be permitted to use "snippets" of content from publisher's web sites in its search results.... "What the ne [...]


German Parliament Hears Experts On Proposed Law To Limit Search Engines From Using News Content

Google Germany Yesterday, the Judiciary Committee of the German Bundestag -- Germany's national parliament -- held an expert hearing on a proposed "Leistungsschutzrecht" law for news publishers. The law, known as "ancillary copyright" in English, would require search engines and others -- perhaps even Facebook, Twitter and individual bloggers -- to pay news publishers if they link to or even briefly summarize news content. The hearing didn't result in a vote. It was the next step in a process that may lead to Leistungsschutzrecht becoming law or not. Below, some background on what happened at the hearing, [...]


Google Transparency Report Now Showing False Takedown Requests

dmca-google TorrentFreak reports that Google updated their transparency report to now show the number and specific details on the false takedown requests attempted. You can see this level of detail by going to a specific takedown request. For example, looking at takedown request ID 266534 shows that of the 886 URLs reported for DMCA violations, 3% of them, or 24 URLs, Google decided not to take down. It is listed in the "no action taken" section. If you scroll down a bit, you can sort by that column and then click on the details to see specifically which URLs no action was taken against. Here [...]


Germany Wants To Force Google To Pay License Fees For Links

A report from GigaOm this morning discusses a ridiculous proposed "ancillary copyright" law in Germany that would compel Google -- and others online -- to pay to link to and excerpt any content from German publishers' websites (e.g., newspapers). The law currently is in draft form and being debated by stakeholders and legislators. The "fair use" doctrine would prohibit this sort of idea from becoming law in the US. But under the proposed German law, every link and/or content excerpts included in search results would be subject to licensing fees. One question is how broadly the law would [...]


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