Two of the world’s leading search engines, Google and Bing have pledged to make it harder for internet users to find pirated content.
Both Google and Microsoft have entered the voluntary agreement with the British government that will see their respective search engines make piracy websites harder to find in the UK.
Under the new code, Google and Bing will demote websites that have repeatedly been served with copyright infringement notices so that they do not appear on the first two pages for common searches.
The idea for the new code was conceived and brokered by Britain’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and aims to stop search engines from driving traffic to illegal websites.
The newly unveiled way of doing things is the result of months of negotiations by rights holders and search engines. It will demote websites such as the Pirate Bay that have been repeatedly flagged for copyright infringement. Such sites will also not appear in suggested auto-completes.
The new code then won’t stop UK users intent on discovering pirated material, but instead will relegate such results to page 3 and beyond. Anyone determined to find illegal games, music, films, or streaming sports matches will still be able to do so. It will just take a little more patience and perseverance, which does make the new code seem as about as much use as a paper tiger in a rainstorm.
Google also maintains that search traffic is not a driving force behind piracy. It may however deter the casual user in terms of exposing piracy websites by reducing their visibility.
Research has shown that the first search result on Google receives 33 percent of all traffic, and the first page of results generates 92 percent of all traffic.
The new code is also one of the first of its type in the world, and the internet giants expect it to be fully operational by this summer.
In many ways the code is merely an extension of current UK practice. Both Google and Microsoft already remove specific page links from search results when rights holders are able to provide evidence of copyright infringement. They also give slower ranking to websites that attract significant numbers of such take-down requests.
“Google has been an active partner for many years in the fight against piracy online,” said a spokesman for the firm “We remain committed to tackling this issue and look forward to further partnership with rights holders.”
Time will tell if it works or if proves to be as effective as a chocolate teapot.