The UK government is considering an online piracy crackdown that will target companies like Google that “facilitate” copyright infringement with formal legal action unless they do more to try and stop it, according to a report in The Times.
Search engines are a frequent target of rights-holders’ ire for allegedly facilitating piracy. Even though a site like Google doesn’t hosted any copyrighted content, regulators claim that it makes it extremely easy to find that content, and should take more responsibility for tackling it.
Reached for comment, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement that the company has “reviewed more than 80 million alleged links to pirated content in the last month alone, and we have refined our algorithm to demote sites that receive high numbers of copyright takedown requests.”
They also asserted that it isn’t search that is driving people towards piracy sites: “Search is not the primary problem — all traffic from major search engines accounts for less than 16 per cent of traffic to sites like The Pirate Bay.”
Nonetheless, the UK government is apparently considering introducing legislation if required. Ros Lynch, director of copyright and enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), told The Times that the government is first going to push for “voluntary initiatives” before turning to sterner measures if these fail. “A number of companies do have procedures in place and they are taking some action. I’m not saying they have been wholly effective. Some are not doing as much as they could … there are still some issues with the Google advertising service not doing as much to stop ads going on infringing sites.”
The IPO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In April, the UK government announced plans to raise the maximum possible jail sentence for online pirates from two to 10 years following a public consultation.
However, this decade-long punishment will likely only be reserved for the most serious, financially-motivated commercial infringers — not people torrenting the occasional movie.
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