Starting this week, web sites that have received high numbers of removal notices for unauthorized use of copyrighted content will rank lower in Google’s search results, the search engine giant announced on its Inside Search blog on Friday.

Because Google is the number one search engine, this could result in lower traffic for sites that regularly post copyrighted material without authorization. “Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results,” according to the post by Amit Singhal, Google Fellow and the Senior VP of Engineering.

As The New York Times Media Decoder column notes, Google’s new ranking system will only take into account valid copyright-removal notices sent to Google by copyright holders themselves.

To learn how to inform Google about a copyright infringement on any Google product (including its image search, web search, Google + and YouTube), visit the Google support page titled Removing Content from Google.

Google’s blog also reports that the company now receives copyright removal notices for over 4.3 million URLs a month. That’s as many notices as it received in all of 2009.  However, these notices come from just 1,636 copyright owners (check out this chart on Search Engine Journal). Most of the notices are coming from large media companies holding many copyrights.


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