UK Music welcomes search engine code of practice

UK Music, the umbrella body for the music industry, has welcomed a new agreement between representatives of rights-holders and major search engines which aims to reduce the availability of unauthorised online content in the UK.

A new voluntary code of practice is to be adopted which will see the removal of links to unlicensed material, and is intended to reduce the prominence of infringing content in search rankings. The agreement has been signed by the BPI, the Motion Picture Association and the Alliance for Intellectual Property as well as major search engines, following a series of Government-chaired meetings.

UK Music chief executive Jo Dipple said: “This is the culmination of years of discussions between rights-holders and search engines. UK Music welcomes any progress that makes our digital markets more efficient. Throughout Parliament’s consideration of the Digital Economy Bill, UK Music called for such a code of practice and for it to be enforceable. This is progress and all parties must work to ensure the Code has effect. Government has a manifesto commitment to fulfil."

The use of search engines is a key mechanism for discovering music and artists, and it is essential that people are directed to legitimate sources to ensure the commercial market prospers and benefits both the creative sector and consumers.

The Intellectual Property Office oversaw negotiations, assisted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and regulator Ofcom, examining how search results are presented to internet users and setting new criteria to enable them to access legitimate content more easily.

The code of practice will work alongside the notification systems operated by Google and Bing, requiring infringement notices to be sent by rights holders to begin the takedown process. It also enshrines the need for ongoing collaboration and information-sharing to develop and improve the process.

Notes to editors
:: Copyright infringement remains a significant challenge to the music industry with 78 million music tracks being accessed illegally between March and May 2016 (www.gov.uk/government/news/online-copyright-infringement-down-as-people-turn-to-streaming)
:: 20% of internet users participated in some form of illegal music activity online during the same period (www.gov.uk/government/publications/online-copyright-infringement-tracker-survey-6th-wave)

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