Google and other search engines have long been accused of making it easy to access pirated content on the web. In the UK, Google has now voluntarily agreed to measures that will demote these sites from the first page of search results and auto-complete predictions.
The new code was agreed upon by British government, as well as the country’s various media industries. This move also includes Microsoft’s Bing and has been long sought following accusations that the two companies have “turn[ed] a blind eye to piracy and [drag] their feet over measures to protect copyright online.”
Demoted websites include those that have received multiple copyright infringement notices, while terms that suggest pirate websites over legitimate ones are also expected to be removed from search predictions.
These measures are voluntary and will be monitored by the country’s Intellectual Property Office. However, based on the results, there is the possibility of further legislation in the summer that includes fines.
According to the watchdog, 15% of online users in the UK access pirated movies, songs, books, and other content. However, it notes that the approximate 6.7 million number is dropping following the rise of legal digital alternatives.
In a comment to The Telegraph, Google argues that the search engine already takes preventative measures to combat theft online: “Google has been an active partner for many years in the fight against piracy online. We remain committed to tackling this issue and look forward to further partnership with rights holders.”