The latest report from the UK’s House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee focuses on Supporting the Creative Economy, and it’s fair to say that the politicians involved aren’t impressed with Google.
“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,” explains its section on copyright protection.
“We are unimpressed by their evident reluctance to block infringing websites on the flimsy grounds that some operate under the cover of hosting some legal content. The continuing promotion by search engines of illegal content on the internet is unacceptable. So far, their attempts to remedy this have been derisorily ineffective. We do not believe it to be beyond the wit of the engineers employed by Google and others to demote and, ideally, remove copyright infringing material from search engine results.”
The report also calls for a new “powerful champion of IP” role within government, swiping at the Intellectual Property Office alongside that recommendation: “too often it is seen as wishing to dilute copyright rather than defend and enforce it”. And the committee would like to see the maximum penalty for serious online copyright theft to be extended to 10 years in jail.
And there’s more: the report calls for the piracy notifications system set out in 2010’s Digital Economy Act to be implemented “with far greater speed than the Government currently plans”; criticises 2011’s Hargreaves report of intellectual property for “an underlying agenda driven at least partly by technology companies (Google foremost among them).”
The report represents one long win for rightsholders in terms of convincing the Committee of their arguments. Whether it brings the changes they desire is considerably more open to debate.