Search Engines Given Code Of Practice


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It looks like the copyright police are at it again. This time they are in a secret meeting with search engine companies making demand of them.

In a document obtained by TorrentFreak, it has come to light that copyright holders held a meeting with search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo to make demands in regards to copyright. The meeting was held by the UK Department for Media, Culture and Sport.

The document begins with a lengthy diatribe on why search engines are hurting legitimate business in the UK by linking to illegal sites first instead of their Web sites:

Consumers rely on search engines to find and access entertainment content and they play a vital role in the UK digital economy. At present, consumers searching for digital copies of copyright entertainment content are directed overwhelmingly to illegal sites and services. This causes consumer confusion and significantly impedes the development of licensed digital entertainment markets in the UK. Search engines, as trusted intermediaries, should assist consumers in finding legal services and should not contribute to copyright infringement.

This paper proposes the introduction of a voluntary Code of Practice for search engines, overseen by Government, which would help to ensure that consumers are directed to safe and legal sources for entertainment content online and grow the UK digital economy.

The paper then goes on to list its propositions:

- assign lower rankings to sites that repeatedly make available unlicensed content in breach of copyright

-prioritise Web sites that obtain certification as a licensed site under recognized scheme

-stop indexing Web sites that are subject to court orders while establishing suitable procedures to de-index substantially infringing sites

- continue to improve the operation of the “notice and takedown” system and ensure that
search engines do not encourage consumers toward illegal sites via suggested

-ensure that they do not support illegal sites by advertising them or placing advertising
on them, or profit from infringement by selling key words associated with piracy or
selling mobile applications which facilitate infringement.

The paper goes on to detail the voluntary “Code of Practice” for search engines that would actively direct consumers to “legal entertainment content,” encourage Web sites towards improved online behavior, ensure that consumers reduce their exposure to malware or scams, ensure the existing system of removing illegal content from search results works to optimum effect, and help ensure that search engines unwittingly profit from illegal content.

The paper quotes a survey that says consumers are overwhelmingly in support of search engines directing them to legal sources of entertainment. The paper says that consumers favor legal sites over illegal sites because they don't want to break the law unwittingly by downloading from illegal sources.

The paper then details individual actions for each of the propositions listed above. There’s a lot there and it’s a good read. The paper is listed as “private and confidential” but it’s too important not to see. There’s some good stuff here on how businesses interact with search engines. I suggest you take some time out of your day to read it.

Proposals to Search Engines