Google Search and Microsoft’s Bing will introduce new anti-piracy measures in the United Kingdom as the two tech giants signed a new anti-piracy agreement, the British Intellectual Property Office (IPO) announced on Monday. The voluntary agreement was signed following negotiations with the Motion Picture Association (MPA), British Phonographic Industry (BPI), and the IPO itself. The new code of practice signed by Google and Microsoft will see the two companies demote their search engines’ results leading to pirated content. Both companies will introduce the new changes on June 1, 2017.
Google and Microsoft will specifically target websites that repeatedly post content that infringes on someone’s copyrights in the UK, the IPO’s press release revealed. In other words, websites that have illegally published copyrighted content on only a few occasions might not be severely affected by this change, if at all. This strategy implies that the agreement signed by Google and Microsoft was primarily drafted to sanction file-sharing websites full of pirated content. As of mid-2017, the first pages of Google Search and Bing’s results that would have previously led to piracy websites will now show links to legitimate streaming services, as well as websites that are legally selling or renting the content that users have searched for. While the BPI labeled this agreement as a “first-of-its-kind initiative” and the IPO called it a “landmark” achievement in its fight against online piracy, Google’s statement on the matter is seemingly underplaying the importance of these developments. The Mountain View-based tech giant told Ars Technica that the company has been collaborating with various copyright watchdogs and regulators to combat online piracy for many years and said that this latest UK agreement is simply an extension of that strategy, implying how more similar initiatives will follow in the future.
Regardless of how the involved parties perceive the agreement, no one expects that the code will completely eliminate online piracy in the UK. However, the BPI’s chief Geoff Taylor still labeled the latest set of anti-piracy measures as an important victory in the organization’s ongoing fight against copyright-infringing content. Latest data suggests that approximately seven million users in the UK are accessing pirated online content on an annual basis.