London
15 February 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Search engines agree to voluntary copyright code


Google and other search engines are close to agreeing a voluntary code to combat infringing content links in search results that will take effect on 1 June.

According to Baroness Buscombe, speaking on Amendment 79 of the UK’s Digital Economy Bill in the House of Lords, the search engines have now “agreed on the key content of the code”.

Amendment 79 would see the UK government impose a code of practice on search engines to dictate how they should prevent copyright infringement.

Buscombe said that acting on a cooperative basis is preferable to a government-imposed code, and asked that the amendment to be withdrawn.

She said that, while there were still elements of the deal to be settled, the search engines involved have been “very cooperative, making changes to their algorithms and processes, but also working bilaterally with creative industry representatives to explore the options for new interventions”.

“All parties have also agreed that the code should take effect, and the targets in it be reached, by 1 June this year. “

Buscombe added that if a “voluntary deal cannot be achieved, we will re-evaluate our options”.

The agreement was discussed as part of an UK Intellectual Property Office-led roundtable meeting between the search engines and other representatives of the creative industries.

Google has now surpassed the two billion mark in URLs removed from its search results due to claims of copyright infringement, according to its latest transparency report.

Nearly a billion URLs were removed in the last year, with 335,000 websites affected.

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