A committee of MPs has slammed Google for failing to help in the fight against online piracy and illegal downloads.
Supporting the creative economy, a report by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, pinpointed Google as the company that needs to do more to fight back against illegal online content, with the report calling its efforts so far "derisorily ineffective".
The report said: "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."
The report continued: "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."
A Google spokesperson hit back, though, claiming it "works harder than anyone" to protect online content and argued that its search services are not the primary means for finding illegal content.
“We removed more than 20 million links to pirated content from our search results in the last month alone. But search is not the problem - according to Ofcom just eight per cent of infringers in the UK use Google to find unlicensed film and 13 per cent to find unlicensed music,” they said.
The committee chairman, MP John Whittingdale, said tackling the scourge of piracy is vital to protect the nation’s creative industries, which are worth an estimated £36bn to the UK economy.
"Britain’s creative industries are of huge importance to our economy and as successful as any in the world. "However, all this will be put at risk if creators cannot rely on a strong framework of intellectual property rights which are robustly enforced,” Whittingdale said
He urged the government to make sure the Digital Economy Act (DEA) is used to greater effect to tackle online piracy.
“The delays in implementing measures to prevent piracy in the Digital Economy Act are costing the creative industries millions of pounds, with serious consequences for the wider economy,” he said.
The committee also said the maximum jail time for serious intellectual property theft should be raised to 10 years, in line with physical thefts. The committee also called for the creation of a UK "IP champion" to promote and defend UK creative interests.
Fighting online piracy is becoming an increasing concern among law enforcement agencies in the UK, with the City of London Police embarking on a campaign against those suspected of running websites to spread material illegally.
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