The copyright-verification service Myows has launched a new petition aimed at the Internet’s largest search engine. The petition, entitled “Dear Google” aims to compel the search giant to make changes to how it operates to promote original content downplay plagiarist and pirate sites.
Specifically, the petition has three parts:
- Penalize Pirate Sites: The first element seeks to expand on the existing DMCA procedure by allowing the public to report pirate sites for demotion only after remaining on the list for some time and being verified by Google.
- Penalize Content Scrapers: Original content creators could flag their content and mark unlawful copies for demotion. Meant to be an expansion of the DMCA procedure that doesn’t require content be removed.
- Display Additional Metadata: Finally, the petition seeks to encourage Google to display copyright-related metadata in their search results.
Personally, I agree with the broad message of the petition. Google does a good job overall in promoting original works and sites, but it is far from perfect and there is more that they can do both to help content creators and to make its results more useful.
That being said, I’m unsure about the specific suggestions as they seem to both add a great deal of overhead for Google and would likely be prone to abuse. I worry these systems would be costly, ineffective and may be used more as a means of derailing competitors or demoting controversial sites.
However, I do like the overall idea of finding ways for content creators to mark their work, possibly through some date/time stamping process (such as what Myows does). Also, I find the idea of crowdsourcing ways of spotting and demoting sites that promote unlawful content interesting, especially since it would also encourage a transparent and fair process for dealing with such cases and remove the need to completely ban the specific pages or deal with DMCA takedowns for every copyright infringement.
Though these specific ideas may not work out, but they are more of conversation starters.
I do, however, agree with the third suggestion. Google can and should display copyright-related metadata when possible. This is a win-win for everyone, including those who wish to encourage reuse of their content and those who wish to block it. Since at least a basic standard exists, it should be trivial to implement, at least from a technical standpoint.
All in all, Google is unlikely to change its ways due to this or any other petition but the discussion that comes from it may be even more valuable.
So what would you propose Google do to promote original content? How do you feel about the suggestions in the petition? Leave a comment below to help continue the conversation.
Disclosure: I have done paid consulting for Myows.