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Illegal downloaders targeted: How will Google and Microsoft partnership affect UK piracy?

Google and Microsoft have teamed up to crack down on illegal downloads and online piracy, with support from the UK government. So what impact will this partnership have on torrent fans here in the UK? Here’s all you need to know.

Piracy in the UK may have just had a volley of shots fired across its bow by both Google and Microsoft, who have teamed up to fight the dastardly beast.

The UK government has drawn up a Voluntary Code of Practice that aims to make discovering pirated content more difficult through the usual search methods. So while the content itself isn’t being removed, as that’s probably a near impossible task, finding it will be a lot trickier.

Both Google’s search engine and Microsoft’s Bing will be adapted to make sure the new rules apply to them. The Motion Picture Association and the British Phonographic Industry will also sign these new rules to make them take full effect.

So how will this Google and Microsoft partnership affect you if you download via torrents?

You won’t find torrent files as easily

If you’re someone who downloads movies, TV shows, music, sports matches and anything else via torrents, you may find it more difficult to find them once this initiative kicks into effect.

Rights holders will now be able to flag a website that is deemed illegal, selling or offering content that they don’t own. Then the search engines will be able to demote those sites, if the request is validated as accurate, so they don’t appear on the first page of a search.

The idea is that casual users who search for a film, for example, will be met with official sources initially so they can legally buy it rather than being given the option to illegal download the content.

“We have a responsibility to make sure that consumers have easy access to legal content online,” the UK’s minister for digital and culture Matt Hancock said. “Pirate sites deprive artists and rights holders of hard-earned income and I’m delighted to see industry led solutions like this landmark agreement, which will be instrumental in driving change.”

How does this new code work?

The code which will be written into Google’s search engine and Microsoft’s Bing will work in a similar way to current anti-piracy kit. This is to compliment the stuff you may have already seen, where ISPs block sites or written warnings are sent to suspected pirates.

This code should make piracy websites more difficult to find, for the casual user at least. Once a legal owner highlights an example of piracy it’ll be down to the search engine companies to demote that in the search results.

Will the Google and Microsoft deal stop piracy?

Piracy is a near impossible force to stop. It’s like trying to stop the internet itself from being free. However this partnership should help to make piracy less accessible to those who might otherwise stumbled across it.

Google has actually said before that search is not a driving force behind piracy. That said, the first search result on Google gets 33 percent of all traffic, with the first page accounting for 92 percent of all traffic.

If anybody does have a drive to seek out pirated content for download, this will still be possible, no doubt. The files themselves will still be shared, it will just be harder to find them. So for people who regularly go to a certain site for pirated files, and don’t use a Google or Bing search, this new initiative may not affect them at all.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of BPI, a firm that represents record labels. “The Code will not be a silver bullet fix, but it will mean that illegal sites are demoted more quickly from search results and that fans searching for music are more likely to find a fair site.”


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