Starting from this summer, Google and Microsoft have agreed to start pushing piracy sites off its search engine results and making it more difficult for people to find them.

Microsoft's search engine, Bing, and Google will now begin to demote websites that have been served with copyright offenses from their search rankings and will specifically push them off the first page of search results. Although it might not seem like much, industry chiefs believe it will have an impact on piracy figures.

A study in 2016 showed that over 141 BILLION visits were made to over 14,000 piracy sites, with 46% of all Internet users in Latvia accessing pirated material. Ireland featured in the Top 10 of European countries to access pirated material.

The deal struck between Google and Microsoft, for the moment, applies to results from the UK variants of their sites. It's not yet known if the same measures will be applied to Ireland's variants of Google and Bing. The agreement, which was brokered by the United Kingdom's IP Office, was brokered on foot of complaints that Google and Microsoft were not doing enough to deter online piracy.

Just recently, the six major studios in Ireland - 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Disney Enterprises, Universal Studios, Sony Pictures Television & Columbia Pictures - as well as independent distributors, such as Element Pictures, brought a legal case in the Commercial Court against the nine internet service providers in Ireland - Eircom, Sky Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications, Magnet Networks and two divisions of Three Ireland.

The case alleges that online piracy has caused over 500 jobs to be lost in Ireland alone, with studios losing close to €320 million annually in revenue. The studios had sent draft protocol to the internet service providers, and had been negotiating with them for some time.

Whether the measures put forth by Google and Microsoft to curtail piracy in the UK remains to be seen.


Via IrishTimes / MUSO / Deadline