INTERNET SEARCH ENGINE Google has been accused of not deranking so-called 'piracy' websites as it promised to do.
The firm had said that it would not return 'piracy' websites in its search results as an attempt to see off alleged assaults on the media cartels' most-holy copyrights. However, Google has been accused of being too slow about it, and now faces the prospect of a review by government mandarins at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Google promised to delist 'piracy' websites in August. The Guardian reports that parties at the DCMS are unsatisfied with what they regard as slow progress at Google and in its search results and want to light a fire under it. There is talk of a review and new legislation.
We've not had a response from the department yet, but it told the Guardian that it is considering its options.
"The Department is aware of the concerns raised by rights holders that this has not had the impact that they hoped, and, together with industry, we now need to review the effect of the technical change made by Google and consider our options," said a spokesperson.
"This is part of a wider campaign to tackle online infringement, which includes working together with payment facilitators (such as credit card companies) and online advertising bodies to reduce the revenue flowing to seriously infringing - often criminal - sites."
The British Phonographic Industry is also talking to Google about its promises and work so far.
"Google said it would stop putting the worst pirate sites at the top of search results. Google's transparency report shows they know clearly which are most infringing domains. Yet three months into the much-vaunted algorithm change, many of these illegal sites are still dominating search results for music downloads," it said in a statement.
"We are talking to Google to try to establish why this is the case. With launch of music in Google Play, now is the time to build a genuine partnership and for Google to show the world that it loves music. This means Google must stop dragging its feet and giving profile to illegal sites that it knows rip off everyone working in music."
A spokesman for Google said, "We continue to work closely with the industry to protect rights holders and their material. Sites with high numbers of removal notices are now more likely to appear lower in our results, we've made it easier to report pirated material and now take down more than seven million infringing links per month."
A spokesperson for the DCMS told us that it is, and will keep, working with Google and other search engines in this area.
"DCMS has been central to the round-table discussions about the online infringement of copyright . We have worked closely with search engines, ISP's and rights holders on possible industry-led solutions and welcomed Google's announcement that it was changing its search algorithm to take account of the number of take-down notices attached to a site," it said in a statement.
"We will of course want to continue working with Google as part of a broad on-going discussion with the content industries, ISPs and others about measures to reduce online piracy." µ