Google, Bing Agree to Help U.K. Creative Industries Fight Pirate Sites

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A voluntary code of practice is designed to "kick-start collaboration between the parties to demote links to websites that are dedicated to infringing content for consumers in the U.K."

Google and Microsoft's Bing are two big-name search engines that have voluntarily signed on to a first-of-its kind initiative in Britain aimed at "reducing the availability of infringing content accessed through online search."

The agreement between representatives of rights holders and major search engines was unveiled Monday following a government-chaired series of roundtables.

The voluntary code of practice is designed to "kick-start collaboration between the parties to demote links to websites that are dedicated to infringing content for consumers in the U.K.," the partners said. "The code will accelerate the demotion of illegal sites following notices from rights holders and establishes ongoing technical consultation, increased co-operation and information sharing to develop and improve on the process. It will also enable new practices to be adopted where needed."

The new agreement will run in parallel with existing anti-piracy measures aimed at reducing online infringement. These include court-ordered site blocking, work with brands to reducing advertising on illegal sites and the Get It Right From a Genuine Site consumer education campaign, which encourages fans to value the creative process and directs them to legal sources of content.

The parties want to work together toward ensuring consumers have easy access to legal content and are not being inadvertently led to infringing sites. "A core aim is to ensure that users who are looking for legitimate content are much less likely to get presented with links to infringing content," the partners said. "There will also be collaboration to improve auto-complete suggestions, which can lead users to infringing search results."

The Intellectual Property Office led the discussions with the assistance of Britain's Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 

“Pirate websites are currently much too easy to find via search, so we appreciate the parties’ willingness to try to improve that situation," said Stan McCoy, president & managing director, Motion Picture Association EMEA. "We look forward to working on this initiative alongside many other approaches to fighting online piracy, such as the Get It Right campaign that aims to help educate consumers about the many ways to enjoy film and television content legally and at the time of their choosing. We are grateful for the government’s involvement and support on this issue.”

Geoff Taylor, CEO of U.K. recorded music industry association BPI and the BRIT Awards, said: "Successful and dynamic online innovation requires an ecosystem that works for everyone — users, technology companies, and artists and creators. BPI has long campaigned for search engines to do more to ensure fans are directed to legal sources for music or other entertainment. There is much work still to do to achieve this. The code will not be a silver bullet fix, but it will mean that illegal sites are demoted more quickly from search results and that fans searching for music are more likely to find a fair site."

Eddy Leviten, director general of Britain's Alliance for IP, added: "This initiative is a world-first. We are grateful for the support from [the] U.K. government both for this code and for the Get It Right campaign that encourages fans to support the artists they love. We look forward to working with Google, Microsoft and our partners across the creative industries to build a safer, better online environment for creators and fans.”

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