Music, Movie Groups Score Win on Piracy Issue in U.K.

Groups representing content creators, with the help of the British government, will see pirated editions of copyrighted material disappear from Google and Bing search results.

Digital pirates of the world could soon find it hard to find what they’re looking for—at least in the U.K.

That’s thanks to a deal between the British government and the two largest search engine operators, Google and Microsoft.

Now, the companies will bury material from known pirates in their search results. Such results will not show up on the first page, and Google and Microsoft may also make changes to their autocomplete features that discourage searches related to piracy.

The agreement, which will begin with a trial period monitored by the U.K.’s Intellectual Property Office, is the result of a yearslong push by the music and film industries to encourage the two technology giants to do more to take piracy seriously. If the results work, IPO might even recommend stricter action.

“We are one of the world’s leading digital nations, and we have a responsibility to make sure that consumers have easy access to legal content online,” said Matt Hancock, Britain’s minister for digital and culture, in comments to The Telegraph. “Pirate sites deprive artists and rights holders of hard-earned income, and I’m delighted to see industry-led solutions like this landmark agreement, which will be instrumental in driving change.”

Industry figures like Stan McCoy, president of the Motion Picture Association EMEA (Europe Middle East Africa), have been quick to welcome the changes.

“Pirate websites are currently much too easy to find via search, so we appreciate the parties’ willingness to try to improve that situation,” McCoy said in comments to The Telegraph.

Music industry groups also spoke positively of the move. UK Music CEO Jo Dipple noted to The Guardian that the endeavor was “the culmination of years of discussions between rights holders and search engines.”

And Geoff Taylor, CEO of BPI, which represents record labels, added that the change “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.”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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