Tech giants Microsoft and Google have agreed to strict guidelines for their search engines. This move will go down in the books of history as the first time the international tech giants agreed to clean-up piracy sites that stream films and events illegally. On Monday this week, Bing and Google agreed to sign a deliberate code of practice that will see offending sites demoted in search results.
The industry of entertainment successfully arrived at this agreement with the global tech giants after successful talks that were mediated by the UK government. According to reports, the new initiative is scheduled to go hand in hand with the anti-piracy measures that are already in place. According to a BBC report, the new code of practice, which has been described as the first worldwide code of a kind is scheduled to take full effect by July this year.
Legitimate Links to Legitimate Services and Websites
The minister for Science, Universities, Research and Innovation in the UK, Jo Johnson emphasized on the need for collaboration between leading global creative industries and the search engines. He added that it is important for consumers to be presented with legitimate links to legitimate services and websites rather than being provided with illegitimate links to pirated sites.
According to Google, the new agreement with Microsoft will provide a proper way to determine whether its anti-piracy efforts that are already in existence are effective or not. This will ensure that it doesn’t commit to coming up with new measures. According to a Google spokesperson, the tech giant has for a long time been an active partner in the fight against online piracy. Google’s spokesman added that the company is still committed to tackling the piracy issue and is looking forward to partner with other tech giants.
The discussions were led by Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in the UK and were assisted by the UK Department for Media, Sport, and Culture. Ofcom, communications watchdog in Britain reported that it was happy with the talks. It explored viable techniques that could prove useful to make sure that internet users don’t come across illegal content. The general director of the Alliance for Intellectual Property trade body Eddy Leviten told the BBC that most of the time individuals search for certain things online, but the search engines will unknowingly direct them to pirated content online.
Leviten added that they are looking to make sure that the results that appear at search engines’ top are 100% genuine. All this is intended to protecting individuals using the internet. Additionally, the measures will protect the individuals who create the said material.
The ‘Landmark’ Deal
In addition to demoting sites that infringe copyrights, the auto-complete search engine function, which is a search engine feature that focuses on saving time by suggesting what the user might be looking for is expected to eliminate some terms that are viewed to promote pirated sites. This is expected to take place over the coming few months and compliance with the new code of practice is scheduled to be tracked by the IPO.
The new voluntary agreement has been labeled as the ‘landmark’ deal and was brokered by the UK government department that is concerned with copyright and patent issues and the IPO. Recently, search engines especially Google have disagreed with organizations that represent the interests and rights of users about the best way to deal with the pirated content problem. Additionally, Google’s YouTube has recently clashed with the music industry about the issue of copyright.
According to Jo Johnson, more than ever, consumers are now increasingly searching online for e-books, films, music and many other content types. Thus, providing them with the necessary links to legitimate online services and websites is prudent. He added that it is not ethical to provide consumers with links that lead them to pirated sites.
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the entity that represents the recorded music industry in the UK and the Association of Motion Picture are other known entities that are taking part in the new agreement. Currently, both Google and Bing allow owners of copyrights all over the world to make requests for certain links to be removed. Over the last one year, Google announced that it toke down more than 915 million links after requests from respective holders of copyrights. Conversely, Bing reported taking down 91 million plus links between the months of January and June in 2016.
The new code of practice was agreed upon on February 9. It is expected that the code will become operational immediately. According to the tech giants, Microsoft and Google, the code of practice will significantly reduce the visibility of online content that appears to be infringing. By 1st of June this year, it is expected that the infringing content that appears in search results each time users search for certain materials will reduce by a great margin.