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Search engines may be forced to combat piracy by the government

Written by Samuel O'Toole on 21 February 2017

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It has been reported that a deal is close to being struck between copyright holders and search engines to combat online piracy. However, it is no secret that the two sides are not on the best of terms.  Google insists that it is doing enough to combat piracy. Yet, clearly privacy is still a massive issue, even a petition website has been used to share links to pirated content.

In the UK it is hoped that the two sides will come to a formal voluntary agreement. Meetings have taken place with the Government and Intellectual Property Office officials acting as the middle men.

Baroness Buscombe revealed, during a Digital Economy Bill committee meeting, that a deal is on the table. The Baroness explained that “While there are still elements of detail to be settled, the group is now agreed on the key content of the code and I expect an agreement to be reached very soon.”

June 1, 2017 is expected to be the day of the voluntary code will be in effect. However, the government is preparing for a not so smooth implementation of the voluntary code.

A creatively named “Code of practice on search engines and copyright infringement”, is a suggested amendment to the Digital Economy Bill. The Code would not be voluntary and will see the Secretary of State stepping in to ensure that search engines comply with minimising the availability of pirated material.

The amendments its self explains that “The Secretary of State may impose by order a code of practice (‘the code’) for search engine providers with the purpose of minimizing the availability and promotion of copyright infringing services, including those which facilitate copyright infringement by their users,”.

Whether the amendment is to be implemented is yet to be seen. The move would be the first of its kind and is somewhat unprecedented. We are sure that a voluntary agreement would be more preferable to both sides, rather than an ability to take action against websites that “facilitate copyright infringement by their users”. 

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