Government set to press Google on copyright filtering

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt will call on Google to remove sites from its search results that are used for copyright infringement, according to a report.On Tuesday, the Financial Times reported that Hunt would give a speech at the Royal Television Society’s Cambridge Convention on Tuesday evening, in which he says online companies should take "reasonable steps" to make it more difficult for people to find unlawfully distributed content.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt will call on Google to remove sites from its search results that are used for copyright infringement, according to a report.

On Tuesday, the Financial Times reported that Hunt would give a speech at the Royal Television Society’s Cambridge Convention on Tuesday evening, in which he says online companies should take "reasonable steps" to make it more difficult for people to find unlawfully distributed content.

"We intend to take measures to make it more and more difficult to access sites that deliberately facilitate infringement, misleading consumers and depriving creators of a fair reward for their creativity," Hunt will reportedly say.

According to the report, a failure to set up a cross-industry body along the lines of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) will result in legislative measures in the upcoming Communications Bill, set to be tabled during the current parliament.

The government has already suggested using the IWF's blacklist, currently devoted to child pornography sites, to block terrorist sites as well.

In August, the government said it would not use powers given to it in the Digital Economy Act to mandate the blocking of infringing websites. The decision followed advice from Ofcom that the idea was unworkable.

However, there was by that point little reason to bring in such a site-blocking system. Days before, the High Court set a precedent when it ordered ISPs to block access to the Usenet file-sharing site Newzbin2. Setting up an IWF-style copyright enforcement organisation would make it easier and quicker for rights holders to get a similar result.

Google said on 2 September that it was already taking steps to combat online infringement, such as promoting legitimate music previews through its Music Rich Snippets feature, and acting on reliable takedown requests within a day of receiving them.

The company also prevents terms closely associated with copyright infringement from appearing in its autocomplete function, it said in a blog post.

"There is plenty more to be done, and we look forward to further refining and improving our processes in ways that help both rights-holders and users," Google general counsel Kent Walker said in that post.

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