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Google results will now 'advertise' legal sites to tackle online piracy

Google has announced it is tweaking its search results in an attempt to tackle the rise of online piracy.

Legal services, like Spotify and Netflix, will now be listed in a box above search results to tempt people away from illegal sites.

Read more: Google asked to remove over 1 million search results a day, as online piracy war continues

The new measures have largely been welcomed by the music trade group the BPI, but it did not agree that legal services should have to pay Google to be promoted in such a way. The proposal will classify the promotion of legal site as adverts, and so organisations will be charged for the privilege.

"There should be no cost when it comes to serving consumers with results for legal services," a BPI spokesman told the BBC.

The growth of online piracy has become a key battle ground for content providers in recent years. In 2013, the BPI issued 43.3 million requests for Google to remove search results, while in the US, the RIAA, made 31.6 million.

The search engine giant has also modified its results system so that links directing users to illegal content fall lower in the results.

In a report published by the firm, How Google Fights Piracy, it stressed that the best solution to piracy is the creation of better legal services, rather than banning illegal ones.

"Piracy often arises when consumer demand goes unmet by legitimate supply," the report said. "As services ranging from Netflix to Spotify to iTunes have demonstrated, the best way to combat piracy is with better and more convenient legitimate services."

Google has generally been reluctant to tamper with its "organic" search results, often to the dismay of content providers. However, chief executive of the BPI, Geoff Taylor, claimed he was encouraged by Google's recent actions.

Read more: Google's search results to favour secure sites

"The BPI, together with colleagues from the film industry, will continue to meet with the search engines and government to ensure these measures make a real difference and to persuade Bing and Yahoo to take similar action," he said.