U.K. Government Report Criticizes Google's Anti-Piracy Efforts

House of Commons' committee ministers accused the search engine of offering the thinnest of excuses to avoid taking action.

LONDON – A group of British government ministers have criticized Google for the search engine's "derisory" attempts to rein in music and film piracy.

In a report by the House of Commons' culture, media and sport select committee, ministers accused the search engine of offering the thinnest of excuses to avoid taking action against widespread piracy, a problem that the committee claimed is costing the creative industries millions of pounds in lost revenue a year.

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Conservative member of parliament John Whittingdale, the committee chairman, said his fellow MPs were "unimpressed by Google's continued failure to stop directing consumers to illegal, copyright infringing material on the flimsy excuse that some of the sites may also host some legal content. The continuing promotion of illegal content through search engines is simply unacceptable, and efforts to stop it have so far been derisory."

The report also carried a suggestion that internet pirates convicted of running commercial websites with pirated material should face up to 10 years in jail, up from the current maximum of two years.

Google currently says it does take down copyright-infringing material when it is brought to its attention.

The report said: "If organized crime involving online piracy on a commercial scale is to be tackled and deterred, it is essential that this discrepancy between the online and offline worlds be rectified."

Serious copyright infringers should be targeted with warning letters without further delay, the MPs said.

The criticism of Google comes hot-on-the-heels of research findings, published on both sides of the Atlantic by the Motion Picture Association of America, that found there is no evidence that the algorithm change made by Google has had any impact on reducing the amount of traffic referred to infringing websites.