Downloading illegal content is not OK. If you're a search provider, though, should you be held responsible for the content of your search results if those results include a link to illegal videos and other copyrighted material? If you use a search engine recently patented by Disney, you won't accidentally find yourself clicking on links to torrents and illegal downloads — they just won't be listed.
According to TorrentFreak, Disney submitted and received a patent for a search engine that prioritises legitimate content sources and rights-holders through an "authenticity metric" — punishing piracy sites while pushing up the rankings of copyright holders and legal video sources.
The patent, titled "Online content ranking system based on authenticity metric values for web elements,” has been finally granted after its initial filing on April 19, 2011. Where current search engines like Google's largely prioritise sites based on content quality and popularity, as well as those sites' search engine optimisation — that wonderful 'SEO' you've heard all about — the Disney patent enables the "filtering" of search results, removing "undesirable" links.
Those links would be to "piracy websites" hosting illegally obtained and shared content, sites like The Pirate Bay and other torrent aggregators. With those web pages removed from listings, Disney's search engine would be sanitised and clean and able to be used by Disney's target market — families, and not especially tech-savvy ones — without pointing them to the locations of Disney's copyrighted video.
The patented search engine would also prioritise "authoritative" sites through its authenticity weighting metric, and that could well mean that in this hypothetical search you'd find the Disney website above Wikipedia when searching for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as per TorrentFreak's example — and that's something that Disney and other rights-holders would very much want.
Disney has a track record in this area, previously lobbying Google to de-prioritise sites that promote access to pirated materials. Here's the big thing, though — does anyone actually use a search engine to look for copyrighted and illegitimately shared material online? [TorrentFreak]