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Search engines urged to help with content creation

An official report into internet piracy has recommended that search engines do more to help content creators deliver subject matter that can be found easier online.

The report, by the Government’s  intellectual property advisor, also concluded that whilst the search engines do not cause online piracy, they should be doing more about it. In a paper that looks at the £400m plus cost of piracy to the UK, Mike Weatherley MP summarised:

“The general consensus from submissions received from rights holders is that the current initiatives employed by search engines to combat piracy are inadequate.”

He went on to say that search engines often play a vital role in unknowingly guiding searchers to illegal content, so would be “well placed” to assist with the matter.

To help tackle the issue, the document made ten recommendations, including urging Google, as the biggest search firm, to assume industry leadership. With the setting and maintenance of clear and robust industry standards demanded by Weatherley, he wants search engines to help with the optimisation of legitimate content.

Other recommendations included agreeing on a procedure to formally remove sites from search algorithms swiftly and permanently, introducing a ‘follow the advertising’ drive, and installing trust marks and warnings.

With the report also urging content creators to work together more, the boss of the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI), Geoff Taylor, said:

“If search engines don’t step up to the plate on this, the government should legislate.”

Though a number of search engines were consulted in the writing of the paper, it stands apart from them and has no direct association. However, Google did respond, listing five areas where content creators could be helped.

The suggestions proffered included running joint events with search engine optimisation (SEO) experts to help content be found easier, creating standalone pages to direct users to legitimate sites, and allowing paywall sites to be crawled by robots to deliver search results.

Steven Morris

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