Google and Microsoft’s Bing will start ‘demoting’ illegal and pirate websites in its search results within the UK through an agreement between the tech companies and the Intellectual Property Office, UK’s copyright regulator, reports The Telegraph. Both companies have agreed to a ‘voluntary code of practice’ wherein websites/links with a previous history of infringement cases would be omitted from being listed on the first page of search results.

In addition, the suggestion mechanism built in Google and Bing, which works by suggesting/auto-completing words will be tweaked to remove ‘terms’ that may lead to pirate or illegal websites. The autocomplete function will only display suggestion that leads users to legitimate or legal websites instead. For e.g. a user searching for “Free online streaming Game of Thrones” on Google, will see search results from sites like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, instead of search results from a torrent site.

The agreement between the two tech companies and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) was inked after years campaigning spearheaded by two major trade associations, according to the report. These include British Phonographic Industry (BPI), an association formed by Britain’s music industry, and the Motion Pictures Association, an international trade association of Hollywood filmmakers. UK’s copyright regulator will also monitor Google and Bing for the next few weeks to check for order compliance. In the future, the regulator might specify fines, legal legislations and other penalties to curb piracy online, added the report.

According to estimates released by the Intellectual Property Office, there were 6.7 million users in the UK who downloaded music, movies, books, etc. illegally, which represents almost 15% of the Internet users in the country.

European Council’s proposal to license content created by authors

Last year, the European Council was looking at regulating content sharing platforms like YouTube, Dailymotion, Facebook, Google, etc. by asking them ‘to deploy a kind of automated filtering technology’ to automatically detect content, music, and videos that infringe the original creator’s copyrights. However, Google later retaliated in a blog post that such a mechanism “would effectively turn the internet into a place where everything uploaded to the web must be cleared by lawyers before it can find an audience.”

Elsewhere in India

In India, filmmakers and producers resort to obtaining John Doe orders to protect their movies from being pirated or from being streamed illegally online. A John Doe order legally restrains websites (including legitimate streaming sites), and other online portals from streaming or carrying copyrighted content. Some courts also allow John Doe orders to be used to block entire websites that have a previous history of infringement. A John Doe order obtained by the makers of Bollywood movie Dishoom in August last year, allowed the producers to legally place a temporary block on all torrent sites. While Balaji Motion Pictures was awarded a John Doe order in the same month instructing ISPs to block around 830 websites temporarily.