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Google, Microsoft Agree To Crack Down On Piracy Sites In UK Search Results

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Google and Microsoft have agreed to crack down on piracy websites that show up in the results of their respective search engines.

The landmark agreement, claimed to be the first of its kind, was brokered by the Intellectual Property Office of the United Kingdom, the department that deals with copyright issues and patents in the country.

Google, Microsoft Sign Anti-Piracy Agreement In UK

According to the press release by the UK IPO on the agreement, search engines and the creative industries will be working together to prevent consumers from being led to websites that are involved in copyright infringement.

The agreement created a Voluntary Code of Practice that will see links leading to pirated content removed from the first page of the search results of Google and Microsoft's Bing. This includes the removal of websites from the first page of search results if they have been served with notices for copyright infringement.

Autocomplete functions for search engines will also be removing suggestions that lead to piracy websites instead of to legitimate websites that pay the necessary fees to copyright holders.

Jo Johnson, the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, will be overseeing the implementation of the agreement, with the IPO to work with all the parties involved for evaluation of the progress being made.

The Voluntary Code of Practice, which was agreed upon last Feb. 9, comes into effect immediately. The agreement has set targets on the reduction of the visibility of pirated content in search results by June 1.

The signatories of the agreement, in addition to Google and Microsoft, include the British Phonographic Industry, representing the recorded music industry of the United Kingdom, and the Motion Picture Association.

Crackdown On Piracy

The agreement has been agreed upon after years of campaigning by the industry, including film studios and record labels, amid accusations that Google and Microsoft have been turning a blind eye to the issue of piracy and not prioritizing measures to prevent copyright infringements online.

"Search engines play a vital role in helping consumers discover content online," Johnson said in a statement, adding that the companies running these search engines should collaborate with the creative industries to push consumers to links that lead to legitimate services and content.

Matt Hancock, the Minister of State for Digital and Culture, added that as the United Kingdom is one of the leading digital countries in the world, it carries the responsibility of making sure that consumers can easily access legal content as they go online. Agreements such as this one will bring out needed change in preventing pirated content from depriving the creative industries of their deserved income.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor, however, noted that the agreement does not solve all the problems of piracy, and as such, there remains a lot of work to ensure that consumers are always directed to legal sources for content.

Search engines have faced similar pressure across the world over the past several years regarding the display of results leading to pirated content. Globally, Google has removed 915 million links over the previous 12 months upon the request of copyright holders. Microsoft, meanwhile, removed more than 91 million links from January to June of 2016.

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