The UKIPO announced last week that it has helped to negotiate an agreement which will see search engines and creative industries work together to stop users being led to copyright infringing websites.
The UKIPO, along with representatives from leading search engines and members from the creative industry, have developed a Voluntary Code of Practice ("the Code") to combat online piracy. The UKIPO has also worked with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Ofcom to develop the Code. The Code will be effective immediately, and aims to remove links of copyright infringing content from the first page of the search results. The Code sets targets for reducing the visibility of such content by 1 June 2017; however such targets have not been released.
Jo Johnson, the new IP Minister (technically the Minister for Universities, Science Research and Innovation), said "It is essential that [consumers] are presented with links to legitimate websites and services, not provided with links to pirate sites." This, along with the fact that signatories to the Code include Google, Bing, BPI (British Phonographic Industry) and Motion Picture Association, demonstrates the commitment to reducing online piracy. Members of the Alliance for IP, which includes the likes of the Premier League, the Publishers Association and the PRS, have also indicated agreement to the Code.
As the Code is only voluntary, we will have to wait to see whether the Code has any real impact; but it is clearly an extraordinary commitment from the search engines, particularly at a time when online piracy is on an upward trajectory. The BPI states that research shows that 74% of consumers used a search engine to discover or navigate to domains with infringing content (here). Google's Transparency Report also shows that in the last month, 71.4 million URLs to content which may be infringing copyright were removed (here).
The Code will run in conjunction with the new educational campaign, "Get it Right", to reduce online piracy, which we blogged about recently (here).