Search engines are in a bit of trouble as the British government has issued warnings about including links to pirated content.
Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have all received warnings regarding this issue, as UK Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said during a recent speech. He said that if the search engines didn’t start taking action, the government would.
“We’ve given £2.5 million to support the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, PIPCU. The first unit of its kind in the world, PIPCU is working with industry groups – including the BPI – on the infringing websites list. The list identifies sites that deliberately and consistently breach copyright, so brand owners can avoid advertising on them,” said the Culture Secretary.
He added that no industry or government could stand by and watch as massive levels of infringement take place. He says that just as they don’t look at any other problem saying it’s too big to bother with it anymore, they shouldn’t do this with online piracy either.
“Copyright infringement is theft, pure and simple. And it’s vital we try to reduce it,” Javid said.
That being said, the British official announced that Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have received letters in which they are asked to work with the music industry to stop search results sending people to illegal sites.
“And let me be perfectly clear: if we don’t see real progress, we will be looking at a legislative approach. In the words of Martin Mills [Beggars Group chairman], ‘technology companies should be the partners of rights companies, not their masters,’” Javid added.
In the past year, the City of London Police has been actively trying to lower the number of sites available. While The Pirate Bay has already been banned in the UK and the site made unavailable thanks to ISP-wide blockades, other sites were added to the list too. However, PIPCU chose to send out letters of demand to domain registrars, asking for these sites to be suspended, without having any kind of court order to base the request on.
A few registrars were fooled by the request, but quickly remedied the problem when it came to light that there was no legal document to back up the letter.
The world’s governments have been trying for years to get search engines to act as Internet police, which Google and the other companies involved have refused time and time again, considering their only job is to provide people with the content they request.