UK Government Puts Heat On Google to Fight Piracy

UK Government Puts Heat On Google to Fight Piracy

November 8th, 2012

Google is under review for a pledge made to the British government more than a year ago regarding illegal filesharing websites. The department for culture, media and sport (DCMS) says it will examine the technical changes promised by Google in August, and, if necessary, take action. The prospect of fresh legislation that would force Google to downgrade pirated material in search results has been raised.

The Guardian reported on Monday that this new development comes after entertainment groups in the film, music and publishing industries complained that top Google search results remain dominated by pirate sites despite repeated assurances from the internet firm that it would push them down. 
A spokesman for Google said: "We continue to work closely with the industry to protect rights holders and their material. Sites with high numbers of removal notices are now more likely to appear lower in our results, we've made it easier to report pirated material and now take down more than seven million infringing links per month."
However, entertainment groups complained that Google was still not doing enough to tackle the issue. 
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, said: "Google said it would stop putting the worst pirate sites at the top of search results. Google's transparency report shows they know clearly which are most infringing domains. Yet three months into the much-vaunted algorithm change, many of these illegal sites are still dominating search results for music downloads.
 
"We are talking to Google to try to establish why this is the case. With the launch of music in Google Play, now is the time to build a genuine partnership and for Google to show the world that it loves music. This means Google must stop dragging its feet and giving profile to illegal sites that it knows rip off everyone working in music."
A spokesman for the DCMS did not rule out the prospect of fresh legislation to force Google to take urgent action on copyright. The DCMS is due to set out its policies on the creative industries in early 2013.
 
Google says it received reports of 7.6m infringing web addresses in the past month – a sign of the significant scale of the problem.
 
Google has fought attempts to make it remove websites that have proved to be infringing entirely from its search results, arguing that this would amount to an attack on freedom of expression. The internet firm has stressed that downgrading websites was not a "silver bullet" in the fight against piracy, and pointed out that there are comparatively few legal services to replace the illicit sites in search results.
 
It's an interesting situation where both sides are making valid points. Do you agree that removing websites that infringe upon copy rights is an attack on freedom of expression? Or is the Government in the right by trying to outright squash piracy instead of addressing the issue in a different way? Let us know in the comments!

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