Google called on to block pirate websites

The UK government is to call for Google's help in fighting the war on copyright infringement and online piracy.

Secretary for culture, media and sport Jeremy Hunt will make the demand in a speech to the Royal Television Society in Cambridge tomorrow, in which he is expected to request that search engines, credit card providers and advertisers "make life more difficult" for those who rip off online content for free.

Hunt is expected to call for search engines to push copyright infringing websites further down their list of search results in a bid to starve them of revenue from traffic and advertising.

Hunt is expected to call for online businesses to enjoy the same legal protection of their assets as conventional ones.

"We do not allow certain products to be sold in the shops on the high street, nor do we allow shops to be set up purely to sell counterfeited products. Neither should we tolerate it online," he will tell delegates, according to a report in today's Financial Times.

"The government has no business protecting old models or helping industries that have failed to move with the times. But those new models will never be able to prosper if they have to compete with free alternatives based on the illegal distribution of copyrighted material."

The move comes after calls for Internet service providers to block a blacklist of pirate sites has met stiff opposition from ISPs, including an unsuccessful legal challenge to the controversial Digital Economy Act by BT and TalkTalk.

In addition to voluntary cooperation from the industry, the government intends to toughen anti-piracy measures in the forthcoming Communications Bill, due to be introduced in the course of this parliament.