Users of Google and Bing will find it more difficult to track down illegal content via the search engines after Google and Microsoft signed up to a voluntary code of practice. The deal means that pirate search results will be demoted in results in the UK, making it less likely that searchers will click on them.
The two technology companies have been in talks with the entertainment industry to find a way to stem the flow of illegal content that's available online. As well as protecting the rights of copyright holders, it is hoped that the new arrangement will help to protect users, as websites that deal in pirated material often pose a security risk.
The new code of practice comes from a collaboration between the Intellectual Property Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and is expected to be active by this summer. It means that when searching for things such as films, streaming sports events and ebooks, users will be directed to legitimate sites as those peddling pirated content will be much further down the list of results.
While the code of practice will not eradicate the problem of piracy, it is hoped that it will help protect those who are unwittingly directed to pirated content. Welcoming the arrangement, Eddy Leviten, director general at the Alliance for Intellectual Property, said:
Sometimes people will search for something and they will end up unwittingly being taken to a pirated piece of content. What we want to ensure is that the results at the top of the search engines are the genuine ones. It is about protecting people who use the internet, but also protecting the creators of that material too.