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In the series “algorithm regulation”, we discuss the implications of the growing importance of technological algorithms as a means of regulation in the digital realm.
Earlier this year, Google revealed that it routinely removes search results that link to material allegedly infringing copyrights, thereby following removal requests of copyright holders (see “New Layer of Copyright Enforcement: Search“). Since this announcement, the number of removed search results per month has quadrupeld (see Figure below).
Yesterday, Google announced that in addition to removing search results it is going to also adapt its ranking algorithm:
Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results.
As in discussed in the first entry of this series on algorithm regulation, the technological layer of regulation is becoming increasingly important for copyright enforcement. But Google’s move to tinker with its most precious asset, the search algorithm, also evidences that technological regulation of this kind may directly result from stakeholder negotiations.