MPs Slam Google Over Piracy ‘Promotion’

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MPs “strongly condemn” Google “failure” over pirated material in search results

Google is facing criticism from British MPs over the way it handles links to pirated material in its search results.

It is unacceptable that search engines in general are allowing links to pirated content and attempts to stop it have been “derisorily ineffective”, said the Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee.

Google piracy problem?

On-line Piracy Key © bloomua - Fotolia“We are … unimpressed by Google’s continued failure to stop directing consumers to illegal, copyright infringing material on the flimsy excuse that some of the sites may also host some legal content,” said John Whittingdale MP, chair of the committee.

“There is no reason why they cannot demote and ultimately remove sites hosting large amounts of illegal material from search engine results.

“Google and others already work with international law enforcement to block for example child porn from search results and it has provided no coherent, responsible reason why it can’t do the same for illegal, pirated content.”

According to the committee, Google receives over two million notices every month just from the BPI trade body on individual pages on sites that “promote large scale copyright infringement”. But it is not dealing with such notices effectively, according to the MPs.

“We strongly condemn the failure of Google, notable among technology companies, to provide an adequate response to creative industry requests to prevent its search engine directing consumers to copyright-infringing websites,” the report read.

Google had already defended itself during the evidence gathering for the report, saying it did remove content when it was proven to be illegal. “When they do tell us about finding illegal content we remove it straightaway. I think last month we removed 9 million URLs from our web index,” Sarah Hunter, head of UK public policy, said during the hearings.

The report recommended implementing measures of the controversial Digital Economy Act, including the “first warning letters” that would be sent to those who were downloading copyrighted material.

“By targeting information letters to the worst infringers, early implementation will, we believe, serve an important educative purpose which could percolate more widely,” the committee said.

The committee’s report had some criticism for the Open Rights’ Group too, saying it had “laissez-faire attitudes towards copyright infringement”.

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