The act of illegally downloading content just got harder.
Google and Microsoft, which owns Bing, both entered into an agreement with the British government to change their coding to ensure that their search results will no longer lead to piracy sites such as Pirate Bay and Kickass Torrents. These websites will not be affected directly. However, what will change is the ease of how users will be able to find them.
Websites that are flagged to have committed copyright violations will no longer appear on the first page of search results. Furthermore, the auto-complete suggestions of these search engines will also no longer lead to pirate websites. Users will be given links to legitimate sites, which observe copyright laws. The rationale behind this is that people will be dissuaded from downloading illegal content if they need to exert a little more effort to find sites supporting these.
The move came after several years of complaints from copyright owners, such as film studios and music companies, that search engines are the gateways that lead users to various piracy sites. However, Google itself maintained that search engines do not drive users toward piracy.
These companies are not the only ones who face losses because of illegal downloads. More often than not, pirated content come bundled with viruses and other types of malware which put users' online security at risk.
The British government is the first to have set up this mechanism. Aside from this tie-up with the search engines, it also initiated the "Get It Right Campaign." According to an Express report, this is intended to combat online piracy through education. Internet Service Providers that detect users getting illegally downloaded copyrighted material will send them official e-mails warning them that they have 20 days to stop doing so. Another warning will be given if they violate this once again.