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UK politicians want to fine search engines for piracy

A number of British politicians have made it clear they want search engines to do more to help tackle piracy. One proposed solution suggested that if those search firms don’t come to a voluntary agreement with copyright holders, that the government could step in and fine them.

One of the biggest arguments made by those who run linking websites – thereby not directly hosting copyright protected content themselves – is that Google, Bing, Yahoo and any other search engines, all link to the same content, its just not indexed the same way. That’s always been true, but that’s not to say that search engines aren’t attacked by rights holders too, they just tend to be bigger, more well funded targets.

As the king of search, Google has made a few efforts over the years to appease rightsholders. It’s removed certain phrases from its autocomplete system, removed listings based on DMCA takedown requests and stopped advertising deals with certain websites. But it seems that that’s not enough for many, including some of the UK’s political system, who want to see stricter controls and greater punishments.

parliament

Source: Diliff/Wikimedia

The plan is to modify the currently under discussion, Digital Economy bill (as per TorrentFreak), which looks to force age gates on pornography websites and create a minimum 10Mbps connection speed across the UK. The new clause being proposed, is called Power to provide for a code of practice related to copyright infringement,” and would require search engines to voluntarily comply with rightsholders, or face the government forcing it to.

“The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for a search engine to be required to adopt a code of practice concerning copyright infringement that complies with criteria specified in the regulations,” it reads.

It goes on to mention enforcement action for non compliance, like financial penalties – though to what extent, isn’t discussed.

This clause has received support from both Conservative and Labour MPs, so could well end up being added to the bill. However, minister for digital culture, Matt Hancock, has urged MPs to not push for this addition, citing the importance of other parts of the bill and not wanting to bog them down with additional debate.

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KitGuru Says: Although the digital economy bill has some nice additions, the pornography ruling is ridiculous and this one sounds very easily exploitable. Perhaps if we taxed companies like Google properly, we would have the resources to better educate the ‘vulnerable’ children about the dangers of online browsing.

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