Google and Microsoft agree to crack down on piracy

Tech firms sign up to voluntary code of conduct

Piracy

Google and Microsoft have agreed to downgrade any links to pirated content in their search results following an agreement with the UK's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the creative industries.

The IPO developed a voluntary code of practice that urges search engines to remove infringing links from the first page of search results, and both Microsoft and Google have agreed to follow the advisory.

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Ofcom has also supported the campaign, which has been independently researching ways to prevent pirated content being distributed across the internet, according to the BBC.

The IPO worked with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to urge the major search engines to adhere to the guidelines in an attempt to prevent copyrighted content being downloaded.

"Search engines play a vital role in helping consumers discover content online," Jo Johnson, minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation, said.

"Their relationship with our world leading creative industries needs to be collaborative. Consumers are increasingly heading online for music, films, e-books, and a wide variety of other content. It is essential that they are presented with links to legitimate websites and services, not provided with links to pirate sites."

Although Google already has a number of measures in place to stop offending content being surfaced at the top of searches, it said it wouldn't change its existing policies, but the code of conduct would help it communicate its commitment to anti-piracy.

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"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," minister for digital and culture, Matt Hancock, said.

"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."

"As we build a more global Britain we want the UK to be the most innovative country to do business, and initiatives like this will ensure our creative and digital economies continue to thrive," Hancock added.

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