Google and Bing join in the fight against piracy sites

21 Feb 2017

Image: michelangeloop/Shutterstock

The ongoing battle between copyright holders and piracy sites has taken a fresh twist in the UK, with Google and Bing joining the former’s side.

Piracy sites, services and applications emerge. Copyright holders cry foul. Attempts are made at restricting the services. Judges are called upon to decide on cases. More piracy sites emerge.

It’s the internet circle of life, and it shows no sign of fading away.

In the UK, policymakers have come to an agreement with Google and Bing to demote piracy sites through search. Specifically, it will affect sites that have been repeatedly hit with copyright infringement notices.

The voluntary code, brokered by the UK’s Alliance for Intellectual Property, comes after years of lobbying, though Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry, says it’s “no silver bullet”.

“Successful and dynamic online innovation requires an ecosystem that works for everyone – users, technology companies, and artists and creators. There is much work still to do to achieve this,” said.

The significance of piracy grows hand in hand with the internet – both are intertwined. And for copyright representatives, largely made up of entertainment industry bodies, the fight is cross-border and never-ending.

For example, earlier this month, it emerged that six of the US’s largest film studios represented by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) have begun legal proceedings in the Irish Commercial Court, claiming that as many as 1.3m people in Ireland are accessing content illegally.

However, rather than targeting the people directly, the studios will be taking Ireland’s nine largest ISPs to court in an attempt to force them to block particular websites that offer free content.

Among those named in the legal documents are Virgin Media Ireland, Sky Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, Three Ireland (two different divisions), Eir, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications and Magnet Networks.

Similar legal battles have already occurred in other countries with reasonable success, and the MPA members will be hoping to replicate that in Ireland.

The acknowledgement of the problem is now absolute. Billboard recently named Daniel Elk, Spotify’s CEO, as the most powerful person in music, mentioning the prevalence of piracy in the announcement.

“Against heavy odds, in 2011, the young, tech-savvy Swede convinced the major labels to invest in and support an on-demand subscription model that included a controversial free tier, arguing that it would curb piracy,” said Billboard.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic