Judging by the incredibly low totals for 2010 music sales, illegal downloading is a big problem. It's not that people are listening to less music -- with so much music at their fingertips, they're likely listening to more -- it's just that they're purchasing less music. While the music industry continues to put out the wrong fire by trying to punish those who illegally downloaded music on antiquated peer-to-peer services, search engine Google, a conduit that often connects downloaders with illegally shared files, is taking steps to help prevent music piracy by making searches for "bittorrent" and "rapidshare," two of the more popular harbors for illegal downloaders, slightly more difficult.
"We will prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete," Google said in a statement last month. "While it's hard to know for sure when search terms are being used to find infringing content, we'll do our best to prevent Autocomplete from displaying the terms most frequently used for that purpose." You know when you type something into Google and three or four letters in, it predicts the term you were about to search? That's Autocomplete, and starting today, typing "bittor" or "rapids" won't automatically generate "bittorrent" or "rapidshare," Billboard.biz reports.
Google hasn't fully banned searches on "bittorrent" or "rapidshare," they've just turned off the Autocomplete function on queries involving those words, so any seasoned illegal downloaders with remedial spelling skills can circumvent this new policy by simply typing the entire word "bittorrent" or "rapidshare." We guess the logic here is if you're too lazy to actually purchase music legally, then maybe you're too lazy to fully type out those terms, and that will maybe deter people from illegally downloading. Probably not, but at least Google has clued in on where to fight music piracy. Now all the music industry has to do is meet them on the proper battleground.
While Google won't assist your searches for "rapidshare," Autocomplete still activates a few letters into terms like "How to Kidnap Someone" and "How to Cheat on Taxes," which are fairly big felonies when compared to illegally downloading the Iron & Wine album.