Google denies that its new copyright-policing policy won't affect Google-owned YouTube as it does other Web sites, despite the fact that YouTube has been known to play host to illegally posted copyrighted material.
The new policy, announced yesterday, knocks sites down in search results if Google receives a lot of "valid copyright removal notices" involving content on those sites.
But Search Engine Land reports that flagging supposedly illegal content on most sites involves using an online process that starts on a page labeled "Removing Content From Google," whereas flagging content on YouTube involves using the video site's baked-in "Copyright Center." And the removal requests Google will be considering as far as search-result positioning is concerned will be those made through the Removing Content page, as well as through YouTube's Copyright Center.
Gizmodo's Eric Limer believes there are two ways to look at this: 1) Google is playing favorites, or 2) Google is "just rewarding YouTube for having such a proactive, easy to use, built-in takedown system."
Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan says he asked Google to comment on the situation and got the following response from the search giant:
We're treating YouTube like any other site in search rankings. That said, we don't expect this change to demote results for popular user-generated content sites.
A Google representative denied that YouTube was getting any special treatment under the new factors built into algorithm. Google says it will take in to account valid copyright removal notices submitted through Web search and directly through YouTube.
Updated 8/12 at 1:30 p.m. with Google input.
You can check out Sullivan's detailed rundown here.