MPs slam Google for failing to protect IP

Google has been heavily criticised in a Select Committee report that claims the search engine giant is not doing enough to protect intellectual property

Google has come under fire from MPs for not doing enough in the fight against piracy with the search engine giant accused of failing to make it difficult for users to access illegal download sites.

The Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee has published a report on the creative economy and highlighted Google for failing to tackle access to copyright infringing websites.

Although the report largely concentrates on films and music there has also been an ongoing issue in the software market with the web becoming an increasingly popular place for illegal downloads to be made available as well as counterfeit products listed on various sites for sale.

The software industry, with the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) being particularly active, has been lobbying government over the past few years to try to get the issue of intellectual property rights higher up the agenda and the latest report points out that the creative industries contribute £36bn annually to the UK economy and that income should not be threatened by piracy.

John Whittingdale MP, chair of the committee, said that the creative industries were of huge importance to the UK economy but that sector was being put at risk because of a lack of robust IP protection,

"We very much welcome recent moves to obtain a voluntary agreement between rights owners and Internet Service Providers to take measures to deter illegal file-sharing. However, if this fails to materialise, the Government must use the powers given to it by Parliament in the Digital Economy Act," he said.

"We are also 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," he added "The continuing promotion of illegal content through search engines is simply unacceptable, and efforts to stop it have so far been derisory. There is no reason why they cannot demote and ultimately remove sites hosting large amounts of illegal material from search engine results.

The recommendations that are put forward by the report include advising the government to have a central champion of IP and to increase the maxuimum penalty for serious online copyright theft to 10 years in prison.

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