A DCMS Select Committee has spoken out against Google and its “failure” to adequately block copyright-infringing websites from its search results in a new report on support for the creative economy.
In a report covering a range of creative industries and potential areas of support, the Government department committee states: “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.
“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 adds. “Google co-operates with law enforcement agencies to block child pornographic content from search results and it has provided no coherent, responsible answer as to why it cannot do the same for sites which blatantly, and illegally, offer pirated content.”
Although changes to the Google search algorithm were said to have been made so that copyright-infringing websites would be knocked down search rankings, the Government points to BPI evidence that shows searches of [Artist] + [Title] + “mp3” return results 61% of which are infringing sites compared to 63% prior to the change.
“This headline figure sums up the inadequacy of Google’s response in the context of illegal downloading, though we acknowledge that is just one way in which music is now consumed online,” the Government report continues.
“Google cannot claim ignorance over the scale of illegal activity on the internet. At present, the BPI alone sends Google well in excess of 2 million notices per month relating to individual pages on sites which encourage and promote large scale copyright infringement.
The report concludes that the Intellectual Property Office’s annual reports should include an assessment of the degree of online copyright infringement and the extent to which identified search engines and other internet services facilitate this.
“We further recommend that the Government consider how it might incentivise technology companies to hinder access via the internet to copyright infringing material,” it says.