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UK MP says Google needs to do more to stop 'piracy'

PM's advisor is full of advice
Thu May 29 2014, 15:49
Online Piracy

MINISTER OF PARLIAMENT Mike Weatherley, the UK prime minister's intellectual property (IP) advisor, has said that internet search firms like Google and Bing do some things to hamper copyright infringement, but not enough.

Weatherley has produced recommendations that has won immediate support from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). He said that with 'piracy' costing lots of money in lost revenue, outfits like Google should take responsibility for risking UK jobs and shabby economic growth. This is music to the ears of the BPI, which leaped on it.

"Mike Weatherley's report is a thorough and carefully considered contribution to the policy debate on the need for action to reduce the prominence of illegal websites in search results," said BPE chief executive Geoff Taylor.

"We agree with his recommendations and invite search engines to work with us without delay to bring them into effect." Taylor added that while some firms have volunteered to act, Google is dragging its heels.

"Google, which dominates UK search, has paid lip service to the issue but in practice has done little to address the ethical loophole in its algorithm, which directs millions of consumers to sites it clearly knows to be illegal," Taylor said.

"If search engines will not now work with the creative sector to give effect to these Recommendations, Government should legislate to boost growth in the digital economy and to give consumers confidence they can search for entertainment safely and legally online".

Weatherley's report has 10 recommendations and he and the BPI hope that they win favour with the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, Sajid Javid.

The government and industry attention is not news to Google, and it has frequently been called on to veer away from its business and towards an industry that keeps Peruvian cocoa farmers busy and the egotistical out of food service roles.

"Search Engines can - and must - use the resources available to them in order to safeguard the UK's creative industries," said MP Weatherley in a statement.

"Piracy remains the biggest threat to the growth of digital commerce; if we want the UK to continue to be a leader in creativity and innovation, the UK must also be an international leader of IP rights protection."

In March the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the US BPI so to speak, accused Google of being a pirate hangout and piracy facilitator, and like Weatherley it favoured a "voluntary agreement with content owners", that is, presumably in favour of those owners.

Last year the government wagged a finger at Google and said that it really ought to derank websites that media companies do not like and have arranged court orders against.

Then the web firm told The INQUIRER that actually it does a lot to aid the creative industries and very little to support those who infringe copyrights.

"We removed more than 20 million links to pirated content from our search results in the last month alone. But search is not the problem - according to Ofcom just eight per cent of infringers in the UK use Google to find unlicensed film and 13 per cent to find unlicensed music," said a spokesperson.

"Google works harder than anyone to help the film and music industry protect their content online."

We have asked it to comment on the Weatherley report. µ


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