Google joins Australia’s piracy crackdown by tweaking search results.
Google joins Australia’s piracy crackdown by tweaking search results.

Google’s new Aussie piracy crackdown

GOOGLE has come to the party on Australia's piracy crackdown, making it harder to find illegal torrent sites through its search engine.

The tech giant has voluntarily agreed to remove sites that facilitate copyright infringement from its search results, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Google has reached a voluntary agreement with Australian ISPs and content rights holders to de-index sites that have been blocked by internet providers under recent laws.

The move will mean Australian rights holders won't have to take Google to court to force the company to remove offending sites from search results.

In 2015, the Federal Government passed legislation paving the way for court-ordered blocking of websites hosting material in breach of copyright. By 2018, the Federal Court had ordered 65 piracy sites to be blocked and more than 378 related domains.

The laws have since been bolstered to allow for the speedy blocking of affiliate or mirror domains that pop up online and allow users to download pirated material. Last year's boost to the laws also provided rights holders the ability to get an injunction against a search engine.

Google confirmed to news.com.au its latest co-operation with local service providers came after changes to the site blocking laws in Australia extended their operation to search engines.

"Google supports effective industry-led measures to fight piracy," a company spokesperson said.

Game of Thrones is one of the most pirated shows of the past decade. Picture: Foxtel
Game of Thrones is one of the most pirated shows of the past decade. Picture: Foxtel

Graham Burke, the chairman of Creative Content Australia (CCA) and outgoing chief executive of Australian film distribution company Village Roadshow, has led the charge on introducing and carrying out site-blocking measures. He has been critical of Google for enabling users to perform searches that led to workarounds.

Speaking to news.com.au last year, he said Google was "complicit" in piracy and was "shamelessly facilitating crime by leading people to pirate sites".

"The Government has shut the front door, but Google is leading people to the back door, showing no respect for Australian law or courts let alone any regard for the Australian economy and cultural way of life."

However, speaking to the Herald this week, Mr Burke has changed his tune.

"We've gone from being enemies to being allies … because I believe Google is doing the right thing by Australians," he said.

"Pirates' business model is robbing and scamming people, they have sophisticated ways to take your information. Google has come down on the side that is right."

Mr Burke said there had so far been 832 sites blocked by Google thanks to the new collaboration.

Graham Burke has praised the move from Google after previous criticism. Picture: David Geraghty
Graham Burke has praised the move from Google after previous criticism. Picture: David Geraghty

In November, Google released its latest How Google Fights Piracy report, trumpeting its work to diminish piracy among global internet users, claiming it has removed more than 3 billion URLs from its search function "for infringing copyright since the company launched a submission tool for copyright owner"s.

Google also said it removed more than 10 million ads that were suspected of copyright infringement or that linked to infringing sites.

"As early as 2010, we began making substantial investments in streamlining the copyright removal process for search results. As a result, these improved procedures allow us to process copyright removal requests for search results at the rate of millions per week," the report read.

"Google supports effective industry-led measures to fight piracy, and we invest significantly in the technology, tools and resources that prevent copyright infringement on our platforms."