CCC welcomes report calling on Google to lead the fight against online piracy

The Creative Coalition Campaign has today welcomed a report by Mike Weatherley, Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, entitled Search Engines and Piracy, which outlines the shortcomings of search engine providers in the fight against online piracy.

The report concludes that Google should take a leading role amongst search engines in tackling online piracy given its technical expertise and market dominance. It sets out a number of recommendations including:

  • A call for Google to implement initiatives that include the prioritising of search results based on their legality and the removal of autocomplete suggestions interlinked with piracy.
  • Offering consumers guidance as to which sites are legitimate, as well as ensuring that consumers are directed to legal sites to access material.
  • Tackling the funding for pirates under the "Follow the Money" initiative as well as devising a protocol between Search Engines and rights holders to remove blocked sites from search algorithms once a formal court order blocking the sites from access via the main UK ISPs has been made.

In an article on the Conservative Home website, Weatherley said: “Getting Google and the others to sit around a table and be part of the solution would be a real boost.”

Commenting on the report, Chair of the Creative Coalition Campaign, and General Secretary of Equity, Christine Payne said:

“This report highlights the action search engines must take to help address widespread online copyright infringement which threatens jobs, damages revenues and undermines investment in the creative industries. People are still directed to illegal sites via search engines because these sites feature so high up in the search ranking results. We hope this report marks the start of a more responsible approach by search engines and the major players including Google."

Other members of the Coalition have also commented on the report.

Chris Marcich, President and Managing Director of the Motion Picture Association, EMEA said:

“This report underlines the need for search engines to shoulder their responsibility in tackling online copyright infringement and ensuring a safe, responsible online environment. Research has demonstrated that search engines still direct consumers to pirate sites.  The prominence of these illegal sites in search listings makes it more difficult for the growing number of legal content services online to compete on a level playing field. Today’s report makes clear that, as the dominant market leader, Google should take a leading role in addressing this problem and we hope that this prompts them to adopt a more proactive and constructive approach.”

 Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the BPI, welcomed the report and called on search engines to step up to the plate and work with the creative sector to effectively address the challenge of piracy:

 "Mike Weatherley's report is a thorough and carefully considered contribution to the policy debate on the need for action to reduce the prominence of illegal websites in search results.

 “We agree with his Recommendations and invite search engines to work with us without delay to bring them into effect.

“Other online intermediaries such as advertisers and payment providers have taken voluntary action to counter the growth of the online black market.  Google, which dominates UK search, has paid lip service to the issue but in practice has done little to address the ethical loophole in its algorithm, which directs millions of consumers to sites it clearly knows to be illegal.

“If search engines will not now work with the creative sector to give effect to these Recommendations, Government should legislate to boost growth in the digital economy and to give consumers confidence they can search for entertainment safely and legally online.”