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MPs attack Google's "notable failure" in removing pirated content from search results

MPs have attacked Google's "notable failure" in removing content that infringes copyright from its search result rankings, branding the giant's efforts to stop it "derisory".

Conservative MP John Whittingdale, who chairs the the Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee, said MPs were "unimpressed by Google's continued failure to stop directing consumers to illegal, copyright infringing material on the flimsy excuse that some of the sites may also host some legal content.

"There is no reason why they cannot demote and ultimately remove sites hosting large amounts of illegal material from search engine result," he added.

The comments came as the committee released a report on Thursday (opens in new tab) in which it argues that the success of the UK creative industries could be under threat from the failure to tackle online piracy.

In it, the committee concludes that illegal piracy, along with a failure to strengthen copyright enforcement as set out in the Digital Economy Act 2010 and the Hargreaves review proposals suggesting copyright exceptions, "threaten the livelihoods of the individuals and industries that together contribute over £36 billion annually to the UK economy".

"This cannot be allowed to happen", the committee stated and has suggested a number of reforms to tackle the problem. These include raising the maximum penalty for serious online IP theft to 10 years imprisonment and putting in place an IP champion in government.

"Britain's creative industries are of huge importance to our economy and as successful as any in the world. We are blessed in the UK with extraordinary creativity which is backed up by superb training in technical skills and a supportive tax regime," said Whittingdale.

"However, all this will be put at risk if creators cannot rely on a strong framework of intellectual property rights which are robustly enforced. 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."

"Copyright infringement is a serious crime that threatens our economic future," he added.

Tomas Jivanda
Tomas Jivanda

Tomas is co-founder of Lucky Pilgrim, a team of journalists, photographers and art directors who connect brands to audiences through words, imagery and design. He was formerly editorial director at Chapel and managing editor at Courier magazine, and was a writer for ITProPortal as well as The Independent, EastLondonLines, The Sunday Times Magazine, and Croon.