Google severely criticised by UK government for failing to counteract illegal downloading

Illegal music downloads have tumbled by a third in the UK – and according to a new government report, it’s no thanks to Google. 

As Music Week note, the Department for Culture Media and Sport has issued a comprehensive report examining the health of the UK’s creative economy. The document takes a particularly firm stance on Google, going so far as to “strongly condemn the failure” of the search behemoth to combat online piracy and copyright abuse.

The report doesn’t mince its words, describing Google’s arguments as “flimsy” and their anti-piracy efforts as “derisorily ineffective.” It also pulls apart Google’s claim that its search algorithm has been adapted to help minimise copyright abuse, claiming that searches for artist, title and “mp3” pull up a 61% infringement rate – only 2% lower than the rate before Google implemented said changes.

The sections pertaining to Google are available to read below:

“We strongly condemn the failure of Google, notable among technology companies, to provide an adequate response to creative industry requests to prevent its search engine directing consumers to copyright-infringing websites. We are unimpressed by their evident reluctance to block infringing websites on the flimsy grounds that some operate under the cover of hosting some legal content. The continuing promotion by search engines of illegal content on the internet is unacceptable. So far, their attempts to remedy this have been derisorily ineffective.

“We do not believe it to be beyond the wit of the engineers employed by Google and others to demote and, ideally, remove copyright infringing material from search engine results. Google co-operates with law enforcement agencies to block child pornographic content from search results and it has provided no coherent, responsible answer as to why it cannot do the same for sites which blatantly, and illegally, offer pirated content.

“This headline figure sums up the inadequacy of Google’s response in the context of illegal downloading, though we acknowledge that is just one way in which music is now consumed online. Google cannot claim ignorance over the scale of illegal activity on the internet. At present, the BPI alone sends Google well in excess of 2 million notices per month relating to individual pages on sites which encourage and promote large scale copyright infringement…We further recommend that the Government consider how it might incentivise technology companies to hinder access via the internet to copyright infringing material”

Google’s executive have been here a number of times before, of course: they’ve been taken to task on the topic by the BPI, and they were badgered by the RIAA to remove 10 million contentious links earlier this year.

In related news, Spain’s government has just passed new anti-piracy legislation, leaving those who host illegal material facing up to six years in prison.



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