Amendments to the Digital Economy Bill intended to force search engines to downgrade links to websites offering pirated content have been withdrawn following the voluntary ‘anti-piracy code' agreed between search engines and the government.
The code was agreed earlier this week and will oblige Google, Yahoo and Bing to make it harder for people to find pirated media on their search engines.
However, the code won't be applicable to DuckDuckGo, Startpage, Ixquick, Blekko, CC Search, Yandex and other search services well beyond the reach of British law. Furthermore, if the code does not have the desired effect, the government - or Parliament - may well come back with even tougher requirements.
The voluntary code will take effect from 1 June 2017 and will see sites linked to piracy radically downgraded by the biggest search engines.
It follows concerted attempts by MPs to force internet companies - search engines in particular - to come down harder on piracy.
In October, it was reported that a "hardcore of MPs" were "looking to beef-up the new Digital Economy Bill by forcing search engines to tackle piracy by de-listing sites linked to piracy, and removing other content alleged to infringe copyright from their results".
During recent debates to the Digital Economy Bill in the House of Lords, Baroness Peta Buscombe had implied that the anti-piracy amendment was intended as a lever to put pressure on Google to cooperate over the code of conduct.
"Since the idea was last discussed in [parliament], Intellectual Property Office officials have chaired a further round-table meeting between search engines and representatives of the creative industries," she said in a debate before the agreement was reached.
She continued: "While there are still elements of detail to be settled, the group is now agreed on the key content of the code and I expect an agreement to be reached very soon.
"All parties have also agreed that the code should take effect, and the targets in it be reached, by 1 June this year."
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