Pirated Website Content Equals Big Penalties with Google

Have you or your business ever grabbed a picture from Google Images to put on your personal or business website? You might want to think twice about doing this. If the rights holder to the content on your website files a copyright removal notice, Google may take action against your site and possibly remove it from their search index altogether.

With over 66 percent of all online searches in the U.S. performed by Google, this isn’t a chance you want to take if you want people to visit your website. Google has recently made a host of changes to its search algorithm that could seriously affect your website if you are using pirated content. Google is now taking into account the number of valid copyright removal notices it receives for a website. This means if your site receives removal notices due to copyright infringement, it may appear lower in search results. That quick picture or text you took from another site can move your website off the search results page.

According to the Google Transparency Report, the search engine has logged over 4.6 million requests to remove copyright-infringing content from its search index in just the last 30 days. That surpasses the number of requests for all of 2009.

Anyone is free to file a copyright removal notice, although most come from the entertainment industry. It is imperative to keep tabs on what appears on your website to make sure you have proper ownership of the content. If you find something that is pirated, remove it immediately. If you allow users to upload content to your website, have them agree to terms and conditions that prohibit posting copyright infringing material. If you have a company managing your website’s SEO, be sure they are using best practices and not filing erroneous claims against competitors on your behalf, in order to bump the competition down in search results. This sort of underhanded tactic will cause your company to be penalized or removed altogether.

Google’s strong stand against copyright infringement is a good reminder to make sure the content on your website truly is yours. It is also nice to know that you have some recourse if others are stealing your content. If you have questions on copyright laws and infringement, Brannon Robinson PC can help.

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