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Google Unveils Search Changes to Curb Access to Pirated Content

Google Inc. said it will introduce changes to its search engine that will discourage piracy by placing legitimate copyrighted content higher in online queries.

The company next week will begin using algorithms that push potentially pirated material to a lower position in search results, Mountain View, California-based Google said today in a blog posting on its website.

Entertainment companies have been pressing Google for years to take steps to make pirated content harder to find. The new system will use “removal notices,” or complaints from entertainment companies, that a website has received in ranking search results, Amit Singhal, senior vice president for engineering, said on the blog. Hollywood applauded the move.

“We are optimistic that Google’s actions will help steer consumers to the myriad legitimate ways for them to access movies and TV shows online,” Michael O’Leary, a senior executive vice president at the Motion Picture Association of America, said in an e-mailed statement.

Lower rankings don’t represent a conclusion that a copyright has actually been violated, Singhal wrote. The company received 4.3 million copyright removal notices in the last 30 days, he said.

“So while this new signal will influence the ranking of some search results, we won’t be removing any pages from search results unless we receive a valid copyright removal notice from the rights owner,” Singhal said.

Jason Freidenfelds, a Google spokesman, didn’t immediately return a call seeking additional comment.

Google was little changed at $642 at the close in New York. The stock has declined less than 1 percent this year.

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