Who: UK Intellectual Property Office (“IPO”); Google; Microsoft Bing.
When: 20 February 2017
Law stated as at: 13 April 2017
Search engines Google and Microsoft Bing, as well as creative industry bodies such as the British Phonographic Institute and the Motion Picture Association, have signed up to a voluntary agreement with the IPO aimed at demoting search engine links to copyright infringing websites in the UK.
The code is intended to reduce the visibility of content which allegedly infringes a third party’s intellectual property rights. This includes a clamp down on search engine results which link to services providing access to infringing content, such as torrent sites, and a push towards promoting properly licensed sources of music, video and other content.
The search engines will have until 1 June 2017 to modify their search results in order to comply with the code of practice.
Why this matters:
The agreement by Google and Bing to the voluntary code comes after criticisms have been levelled at search engines for not doing enough to stop pirate sites. This pressure has led to the search engines taking a more pro-active role in preventing the proliferation of infringing content.
Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock, said after confirmation of the code of conduct:
“We are one of the world’s leading digital nations, and we have a responsibility to make sure that consumers have easy access to legal content online. Pirate sites deprive artists and rights holders of hard-earned income and I’m delighted to see industry led solutions like this landmark agreement which will be instrumental in driving change.”