Mid-2012 Google announced that they were to start penalizing sites that had multiple DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown requests for violating copyright laws. It is said that the update was released on 13th August 2012 although no official release date was announced.
Google put their anti-piracy measures into action and sites that had previously received a number of DMCA warnings were starting to worry about their rankings and whether they would fall out of the SERPs completely.
DMCA requests are an effective way to get copyrighted content removed from Google although they are very time consuming to file. You do not have to be a webmaster to make a request, anyone can report copyrighted content for removal. Google takes these requests extremely seriously and analyzed every allegation to come to an appropriate outcome. Prior to Pirate, DMCA requests only removed the stated page from a site if it did not follow the Copyright laws but with Pirate now in place, Google will analyze the entire site that has had allegations made against it which could potentially mean a penalty for the site as a whole. This means sites with a large amount of DMCA requests will appear much lower in the SERPs or not at all!
The impact of Google Pirate’s release was fairly minor compared to the update over 2 years later; Pirate 2.0 was rolled out on 21st October 2014 which caused significant drops in traffic and visibility for many webmasters. The industry that was hit hardest with this update was torrent sites which supply users with media files such as movies and music via a BitTorrent. Many large torrent sites found their rankings plummeting and in turn, lesser known torrent sites and legal authority download sites taking their place
What about YouTube?
Many webmasters were wondering what was going to happen to copyright infringements on Google owned YouTube, however, Google commented saying they were to treat YouTube like any other site although they would not appear on the above list. This is because YouTube removes copyrighted content on a regular basis and has its own feature on the site to report copyrighted content although it can be an extensive procedure.
Google Pirate: Overview & Impact
1. The Pirate update was released on August 13th, 2012 to diminish copyrighted content displaying in search results
2. Sites with plenty of DMCA penalties are at risk of getting a site-wide penalty
3. Torrent sites were the most affected by the original update and the refresh in October 2014
4. There are 520,000+ domains currently at risk of penalties according to Google’s Transparency Report
5. Trusted and legal authority sites are replacing those that have been reported for copyright infringements in the SERPs.