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Gov't wants Google to join net piracy fight

Culture secretary to call for search engines to push sites further down search rankings

The government wants search engines including Google to join the fight against net piracy and "make life more difficult" for websites that offer access to copyright infringing content.

According to the Financial Times, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, is expected to call for search engines, advertisers and credit card companies to "reasonable steps" at the Royal Television Society's Cambridge Convention.

"We do not allow certain products to be sold in the shops on the high street, nor do we allow shops to be set up purely to sell counterfeited products. Neither should we tolerate it online," Hunt will say.

"We intend to take measures to make it more and more difficult to access sites that deliberately facilitate infringement, misleading consumers and depriving creators of a fair reward for their creativity."

These measure include asking search engines to push any site deemed unlawful by a court down its rankings as well as stopping revenues generate from advertisers.

Hunt is also expected to reveal that if search engines do not voluntarily help fight net piracy, it will use the new Communications bill to introduce legislation to tackle the issue. This could see the creation of a cross-industry organisation, similar to the Internet Watch Foundation, which takes down websites containing child pornography.

However, Hunt's announcement marks a U-turn for the government. Last month, it said it had dumped plans to force ISPs to block websites that host pirated material following a review of the proposal by regulator Ofcom.

"It is fundamental to our concept of law that it should apply to everyone without fear or favour. This means it must apply equally in the virtual world as in the physical world," Hunt is expected to say.

"The government has no business protecting old models or helping industries that have failed to move with the times. But those new models will never be able to prosper if they have to compete with free alternatives based on the illegal distribution of copyrighted material."


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