Google continues to address the problem of illegal file-sharing by removing more and more movie pirate sites from its search results. Now streaming portals 123movies and Fmovies, both accounting for millions of visitors, disappeared from the results, along with the popular converter platform YouTube-MP3.
Copyright holders always complain that Google is not doing enough to tackle online piracy and demand more stringent measures, including removing “known” infringing websites from its search results. Despite Google rejecting such requests, a number of prominent pirate services have mysteriously vanished from its search index, including Fmovies.to, a popular portal that allows streaming the latest movies and TV-shows for free. If you search for fmovies.to, you will see that Google no longer indexes the site’s URLs – instead, you will find the unrelated site Fmovies.io at the top of the results.
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Fmovies’ rival 123movies faced similar fate, with its official 123movies.is and 123movies.cz domains disappearing from the list. If you search for 123movies, Google will only offer you 123movies.net, which is operated by different people. Moreover, the site’s official Facebook page was removed as well.
So far, no announcements were made about the removals from the search index and their causes. Taking into account Google’s previous stance, it seems unlikely that it would start removing pirate websites from its index voluntarily. However, something is going on, as the popular YouTube MP3 conversion tool YouTube-MP3.org also temporarily vanished from search results, but then got back. It is known that Google has previously warned YouTube-MP3.org for violating YouTube’s TOS and it is now being sued by the major record labels. The most likely explanation was that the search engine found the websites guilty of some sort of violation and removed them as some kind of penalty, but both the type of violation and the reason for reinstating YouTube-MP3.org in search results remain unclear.
In the meantime, these moves are unlikely to hurt the affected sites’ traffic, since they are still indexed by other search engines.