THE UK GOVERNMENT has shelved plans to enforce an 'anti-piracy' law on search engines after Google and Microsoft agreed to a voluntary code earlier this week.
The code agreed earlier this week and will oblige Google and Bing to make it harder for people to find pirated media on their search engines.
It has also forced the UK government to remove an anti-piracy amendment made to the Digital Economy Bill that would have forced the search firms to take action on 'pirated' content.
However, the newly agreed upon voluntary code won't be applicable to the likes of DuckDuckGo, Startpage, Ixquick, Blekko, CC Search, Yandex and other search services well beyond the reach of British law. Furthermore, if the code does not have the desired effect, the government - or Parliament - may well come back with even tougher requirements.
The voluntary code will take effect from 1 June 2017 and will see sites linked to piracy radically downgraded by the biggest search engines.
It follows concerted attempts by MPs to force internet companies - search engines in particular - to come down harder on piracy.
In October, the INQUIRER reported that a "hardcore of MPs" were "looking to beef-up the new Digital Economy Bill by forcing search engines to tackle piracy by de-listing sites linked to piracy, and removing other content alleged to infringe copyright from their results".
During recent debates on the Digital Economy Bill in the House of Lords, Baroness Peta Buscombe had implied that the anti-piracy amendment was intended as a lever to put pressure on Google to cooperate over the code of conduct.
"Since the idea was last discussed in [parliament], Intellectual Property Office officials have chaired a further round-table meeting between search engines and representatives of the creative industries," she said in a debate before the agreement was reached.
She continued: "While there are still elements of detail to be settled, the group is now agreed on the key content of the code and I expect an agreement to be reached very soon.
"All parties have also agreed that the code should take effect, and the targets in it be reached, by 1 June this year."
This code of practice follows on from existing anti-piracy measures that have already been implemented in the UK, including court-ordered site blocking, efforts to reduce advertising appearing on illegal websites and the Get it Right From A Genuine Site 'educational' campaign. µ
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