Google Is Permanently Deindexing Pirate Sites Across Europe

The decision by Google to remove pirated websites from search results is spreading throughout Europe. Earlier this year, the MPA admitted that approximately 10,000 domains had been deleted, but the actual number is much higher. A takedown notice on the Lumen Database was issued, and a report from Lithuania shed light on an egregious but huge piracy deindexing operation.

The UK government was determined to decrease overall piracy. It first asked Google about pirate sites appearing in its search results.

In 2017, a deal was made by Google that would allow it to adjust its algorithm to make pirate websites more challenging to find.

Although this code of conduct didn’t include site deindexing, the MPA (and BPI) celebrated the ‘landmark agreement. Google had little to no words. Google had very little to say in 2021 when people discovered the entire site deindexing process was underway in the Netherlands. This was four years before.

A similar pattern was observed in the UK just weeks after the Netherlands confirmed deindexing.

According to reports in February 2022, the lumen database mentions over 100 pirate sites. The High Court of London had previously blocked these sites for copyright infringement. These sites were also destined to be lost in search results.

Finally, the MPA acknowledged that deindexing was taking place in March. It also noted that Google had already removed 10,000 domains.

We have reported that Google will deindex all domains if rights holders submit an ISP blocking order. However, BREIN, a Dutch anti-piracy group, suggested that if an ISP blocking order were issued, Google would have to comply.

Since then, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have all been added to this silently growing list. YouTube-ripping sites are the most recent targets. It is common to consider significant anti-piracy accomplishments an opportunity to keep content protection in the public eye. But this case is a notable exception.

Injunctions can be requested by rightsholders in EU member countries against intermediaries to prevent online infringement. Although ISPs are required to block the IP addresses of pirate sites and tamper with DNS to stop customers from accessing them, legal processes differ from country to country.

An administrative authority also manages Lithuania’s site-blocking program, along with other countries like France (ARCOM), Italy(AGCOM), Spain/IPC, and Greece (PPI). The Independent body, the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (RTCL), is responsible for online copyright protection and regulates video platforms and broadcasters.

RTCL, also known as LRTK, announced last week that greater cooperation with Google would result in entire pirate sites being removed from Google search results. This statement confirms that Google will deindex all mirrors and proxy sites in the future.

LRTK will file court orders against such websites, requesting that they be removed according to the Google process. This means that all domain names and copies of websites blocked by LRTK orders will not be made public on the Google search platform.

The LRTK noted that specific URLs (URL, Uniform Resource Locators) that link to illegally published copyright objects and related rights had been removed from Google’s search system.

The result does not matter if the paragraph refers to repeat infringers or a ‘takedown/staydown” system. ISPs will not only block replacements, proxy servers, and mirrors, but they will also not allow showing the sites in search results for a significant amount of time.

Google’s removal of a pirate site from search results is a problem that they are trying to attract more users. Although Google had previously stated that Google search was not as crucial for pirate discovery as rightsholders may suggest, the Lithuanian announcement adds a point of interest.

LRTK also points out that these websites use other services to commercialize illegal activities. Therefore, removing them from Google search results will reduce the opportunity for their administrators or managers to make a profit publishing works without consenting to the rights holders.

Google appears to require some court order for any deindexing. LRTK/RTCL, as we have already noted, is an administrative body, not a judicial one. However, in this instance, the presentation of court orders is not an issue.

Based on complaints from rightsholders, LRTK/RTCL decides on website blocking within 14 working days. However, before ISPs are compelled to block websites, Vilnius Regional Administrative Court must approve. This sanctioned the blocking orders. If dynamic blocking covers subsequent mirrors or proxies, it is unnecessary to return to court.

You can confirm that Lithuania has partnered with Google by visiting the Lumen Database under “Government Requests.” The image below shows a specific example, and for the curious, a few deindexing requests are given here: Example 1, 2, 3.

Google’s Permanent Deindexing of Pirate Sites Spreads Across Europe

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