In a world first, Google and Microsoft have finally agreed to crackdown on piracy sites in the UK. On Monday, it was announced that the search engine giants had both signed up to a voluntary code of practice which will see them commit to demote websites that have been repeatedly served with copyright infringement notices, thereby making it much harder for UK internet users to download and stream films, TV, music and sport illegally. The U.S. tech giants have agreed links to pirate websites will be blocked from the first page of results.
The landmark decision comes after years of anti-piracy campaigning from the UK government and creative industries, which have accused the U.S. tech giants of dragging their feet in the fight against illegal copyright infringement.
The code was agreed on February 9 between the search engines and entertainment trade bodies including the Motion Picture Association and music industry body BPI. The UK government’s IP Office brokered the deal and it’s expected to come into full effect this summer.
“Sometimes people will search for something and they will end up unwittingly being taken to a pirated piece of content,” said Eddy Leviten, Director General at the Alliance for Intellectual Property. “What we want to ensure is that the results at the top of the search engines are the genuine ones. It is about protecting people who use the internet but also protecting the creators of that material too.”
Motion Picture Association’s Euro chief Stan McCoy said: “Pirate websites are currently much too easy to find via search, so we appreciate the parties’ willingness to try to improve that situation. We look forward to working on this initiative alongside many other approaches to fighting online piracy.”
BPI chief exec Geoff Taylor added: “The code will not be a silver bullet fix, but it will mean that illegal sites are demoted more quickly form search results and that fans searching for music are more likely to find a fair site.”
Recent research from the UK Government’s IP Office found that 15% of all UK internet users have accessed at least one item of illegal content.