As predicted last week, search-engine owners have reached an agreement with rightsholders on a new ‘voluntary code of practice’ in the UK to tackle links to copyright-infringing content on their services.
“Creative industries and search engines partner to reduce piracy,” is how the joint press release from the BPI, Motion Picture Association, Alliance for Intellectual Property, Google and Bing put it this morning.
According to the announcement, this voluntary code of practice will “accelerate the demotion of illegal sites following notices from rights holders, and establishes ongoing technical consultation, increased co-operation and information sharing to develop and improve on the process… There will also be collaboration to improve autocomplete suggestions which can lead users to infringing search results.”
BPI boss Geoff Taylor welcomed the agreement. “The code will not be a silver bullet fix, but it will mean that illegal sites are demoted more quickly from search results and that fans searching for music are more likely to find a fair site,” he said in a statement.
For its part, a Google spokesperson said that “Google has been an active partner for many years in the fight against piracy online. We remain committed to tackling this issue and look forward to further partnership with rights holders.”
This is not a seismic realignment of the duties of search-engine providers: it codifies some of the measures they are already taking, while laying the groundwork for a relationship with rightsholders that involves more cooperation and (hopefully) less sniping at one another in reports and lobbying discussions.