UK rightsholder representatives and search engines have come together to launch a new initiative to reduce the availability of infringing online content.
A voluntary code of practice will kick-start collaboration between the parties to demote links to websites that are dedicated to infringing content for UK consumers.
The code will accelerate the demotion of illegal sites following notices from rightsholders, and establishes ongoing technical consultation, increased co-operation and information sharing to develop and improve on the process.
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has led the discussions, with the assistance of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The BPI, Motion Picture Association and the Alliance for Intellectual Property have been in conversation with Google and Bing.
This agreement will run in parallel with existing anti-piracy measures including court ordered site blocking, work with brands to reducing advertising on illegal sites and the Get it Right from a Genuine Site consumer education campaign.
Geoff Taylor, BPI and BRIT Awards chief executive, said: ‘Successful and dynamic online innovation requires an ecosystem that works for everyone – users, technology companies, and artists and creators. BPI has long campaigned for search engines to do more to ensure fans are directed to legal sources for music or other entertainment. There is much work still to do to achieve this. The code will not be a silver bullet fix, but it will mean that illegal sites are demoted more quickly from search results and that fans searching for music are more likely to find a fair site.
‘This initiative is a world-first. We are grateful for the support from UK government both for this code and for the Get It Right campaign that encourages fans to support the artists they love. We look forward to working with Google, Microsoft and our partners across the creative industries to build a safer, better online environment for creators and fans.’
Jo Dipple, UK Music chief executive, also welcomed the news. She said: ‘This is the culmination of years of discussions between rightsholders and search engines. UK Music welcomes any progress that makes our digital markets more efficient.
‘Throughout parliament’s consideration of the Digital Economy Bill, UK Music called for such a code of practice and for it to be enforceable. This is progress and all parties must work to ensure the code has effect. Government has a manifesto commitment to fulfil.’
Copyright infringement remains a significant challenge to the music industry with 78 million music tracks accessed illegally between March and May 2016. Read the government figures.
PRS for Music’s own anti-piracy tool, the Member Anti-Piracy System (also known as MAPS), has made a significant impact in the fight against copyright infringement, with more than 57,000 successful take-down notices issued to offending websites.