- Google and Microsoft have signed up to a voluntary code promising more collaboration with rightsholders.
- The search engines have until June 1 to show progress on demoting pirate sites in search.
- Autocomplete may stop showing pirated sites as suggestions.
Google and Microsoft’s Bing have agreed to make it tougher for people to find illegal streaming and download sites on their search engines after striking a deal with rightsholders.
The search engines have signed up to a voluntary code of practice which makes collaboration with rightsholders easier. The code is not being shared publicly.
According to joint statement issued by rightsholder groups the Alliance for IP, the BPI, and the MPA, 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.”
If this sounds woolly, that’s because neither Google or Microsoft have agreed to take specific action yet, sources with knowledge of the plans told Business Insider.
As a first step, the search engines will work out how to demote pirate sites in search results and report their findings to rightsholders later this year.
Gennaro Costaldo, a spokesman for the BPI, told Business Insider that if you search for “Coldplay download”, the top results show infringing links. Google does point users to Coldplay on YouTube, Spotify, and Deezer in its information box, but the first page of results mostly comprises links to pirate sites.
Rightsholders not only want these sites delisted or demoted, they also want to stop proxy and mirror versions reappearing.
“There’s a sense that this is a new period of collaboration,” Costaldo said.
The search engines have until June 1 to show progress. Sources told Business Insider the government can take action if rightsholders aren’t happy with the changes, but it isn’t clear whether this might mean fines or regulation.
Another item on the agenda is autocomplete. If, for example, you search for “download Coldplay for”, autocomplete suggests “download coldplay songs for free” as a possible search term. Clicking through on that term shows an infringing site offering free Coldplay MP3 downloads.
Google said in a statement: “Google has been an active partner for many years in the fight against piracy online. We remain committed to tackling this issue and look forward to further partnership with rights holders.”
News of Google and Microsoft signing up to the voluntary code comes after internet service providers in the UK began sending piracy warning letters to users, as part of the “Get It Right from a Genuine Site” campaign.
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