Hovering over the initial search results link without trying to click anything shows the correct direct link in the status bar (outlined in red below):
And clicking to open the link works.
But if you rightclick the search result link, e.g. in order to choose "Copy Link Location", you get the very long link instead:
This can be very annoying if you're trying to copy and paste links from Google search results for notes, emails, blog posts or slides etc.
Why is this going on? It's because Google have randomly selected you, yes, lucky you (now one of the chosen many), to have this search redirection happen to you every time you do a search via Google while you're already logged in to a Google account (e.g. Gmail or Google Reader).
Link redirection. The search results links of the chosen many will then get turned into special Google "redirect" links, so that when you click on a link it will send you to the right place eventually - but meanwhile it's been redirected through Google, so that they will know (and presumably store a record of) exactly which links you clicked on.
This redirection happens even if you don't rightclick on the link first. Just keep an eye on the status bar as you left click a search result, and you'll see the long Google URL flash up there for an instant before the "real" page comes up.
Also note that this happens with "normal" search results in the main body of the page. In other words, they don't just track clicks on advertisements (which is expected and catered for), but clicks on any (non-ad) search results.
Rightclick broken. Now, tracking which Google search results you click on has privacy implications in itself and may be creepy or scary to some, but for many the main issue is simply that this link redirection breaks the rightclick functionality in your browser - you just can't copy direct search results links properly anymore.
Privacy - no opt out. A big problem is, once you've been chosen for this special treatment, you may find it happening all the time while you're logged in, whether you like it or not - Google don't alert you to it, and Google don't seem to provide any way for you to disable it or to opt out of this click tracking.
Personally I think this practice might well give rise to a legal risk for Google, because the initiation of the tracking isn't notified to the chosen many (who are signed in to their Google account at the time, and therefore probably personally identifiable) - and not only is the user not told about the tracking, but they aren't given the opportunity to consent to it or to opt out either. Nor are they told how the info from the tracking is to be used.
So for their own protection and for good PR as well as to help users, I feel Google should provide an opt out for this. There are indications that the redirection is going to happen automatically for all Google searches eventually, so maybe they'll update things then.
Anyway, until an opt out is available, if you're one of the chosen many there are a few things you can do to sort this out for yourself.
Solutions to the problem
Log out of Google! To fix this problem, the easiest solution is simply to log out of Google first before you search. A gotcha: if you do, though, make sure you sign out of all Google accounts first e.g. Google Calendar as well as Gmail etc, as signing out of just one of them, like Gmail, won't necessarily sign you out of the rest, like Calendar.
Use another browser for searching. However you may not always remember to log out of everything, and you may well need to have access to your Gmail etc during a search. One workaround is to open another type of browser (e.g. Opera or Internet Explorer, if you're logged in to Google via Firefox), and search in that browser, making sure you're not logged in to Google on that browser. Or use Bing to search!
Greasemonkey script. The easiest solution, if you use Firefox as your main browser, is to install a Greasemonkey user script. This fix is what I personally use.
I looked at the source and noticed the "onmousedown" event handler associated with every search result link. Rather than write a script to get rid of it, being lazy I did a search and sure enough others had already written scripts to address this issue.
The one I tried, which I know works, is the Google Search - Remove Redirection userscript.
(If you're not familiar with Greasemonkey, here's how to install the Greasemonkey extension and how to install a userscript. Both are free, as is Firefox.)