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Perspective, pings and other things relevant to our world

Google's Move to Demote Pirate Sites - Is It Really Working?

February 21, 2013

Six months ago Google announced it would take into account the number of valid copyright notices it receives when returning search results.  Attached is our Google report card that offers our initial analysis of Google’s new demotion policy for piracy. The key take away:  “Six months later, we have found no evidence that Google’s policy has had a demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy. These sites consistently appear at the top of Google’s search results for popular songs or artists.”
Additional excerpts:
•    Over the six-month period, Google received notices for tens of millions of copyright removal requests concerning various sites, including multiple repeat notices of infringement of the same content on the same site;
•    The  sites we analyzed, all of which were serial infringers per Google’s Copyright Transparency Report, were not demoted in any significant way in the search results and still managed to appear on page 1 of the search results over 98% of the time in the searches conducted;
•    In fact, these sites consistently showed up in 3 to 5 of the top 10 search results
Check out the report’s executive summary [here] and entire report for additional details. 
“We recognize and appreciate that Google has undertaken some positive steps to address links to illegal music on its network,” said Steven M. Marks, EVP & General Counsel, RIAA.  “Unfortunately, our initial analysis concludes that so far Google’s pledge six months ago to demote pirate sites remains unfulfilled.  Searches for popular music continue to yield results that emphasize illegal sites at the expense of legitimate services, which are often relegated to later pages. And Google’s auto-complete function continues to lead users to many of those same illicit sites.  

“The range and number of licensed services embraced by the music business and available to fans today is staggering. Whymusicmatters.com, a handy guide to online music sites, is one illustration of that.

“We want fans to easily and quickly find the services that are safe, secure and reward the artists that create the music we all love.  Research shows that users trust search engines like Google to lead them to legitimate sites when searching for music, yet Google’s demotion program is not working.  We encourage Google to immediately make the necessary changes so its pledge becomes a reality, and we stand ready to work with Google in that endeavor.”

Super (Bowl) Sizing Sales

February 03, 2013

The Super Bowl is a massive stage for the artists who get the opportunity to perform.  The Nielsen Company offered some perspective last week, sharing some digital sales data for songs and artists who recently performed.  Building off that data, we did a little more analysis to offer a bit more macro view.  Here’s another way to look at it: for 20 songs that were played at halftime of the last 3 Super Bowls, the average increase in sales was 120% the following week (compared with the week prior to the Super Bowl).  Additionally, for 14 songs that were featured in commercials during the Super Bowl in 2012, an average 197% increase in sales was seen the following week.

None of this is likely terribly surprising, but nonetheless we think it’s interesting.  It’s another example of the interrelationship between music and other forms of media, including television.  We noted before how ratings for music award shows like the Grammys are skyrocketing, and that music-themed shows are regularly among the top rated.  Music is a must-have, whether it’s a Presidential inauguration or the Super Bowl.  So, when it comes to halftime, don’t turn the channel – it may be as interesting as the game!


Joshua P. Friedlander
Vice President, Strategic Data Analysis, RIAA