Search giant Google has agreed to collaborate with the PPA in tackling illegal online copyright infringement of members’ content.
The initiative is the result of a meeting with representatives from Google held at the PPA on May 24, which was attended by over 20 PPA members from consumer and business media. The meeting was designed to establish how publishers can work with Google to combat piracy and illegal monetisation of content.
Following discussion of the scale and complexity of the issue, attendees agreed that PPA can lead on this issue on behalf of members and, more widely, take a lead on working with the Government and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) on making the Digital Rights Exchange (as recommended in the Hargreaves review) work best for the sector.
Sarah Hunter, Head of UK Public Policy at Google, said measures were in place to enforce cases of copyright infringement using ‘take-down’ notices, where specific URLs hosting content illegally are removed from the search index. These notices are actioned after notification from the rights holder and without the requirement for a court order.
More information on Google's copyright policy can be found on its Public Policy Blog here.
Hunter said Google was working to communicate the ‘take-down’ process more widely to rights holders. She also underlined the fact that Google only has the power to remove specific URLs - as opposed to entire domains - from its own search index and not from the internet altogether.
Hunter also said Google had made efforts to remove the ‘nudge’ effect that directed users to pirated content through its predictive search function, but that it was difficult to police legitimate search terms such as ‘download’.
The meeting was opened by PPA CEO Barry McIlheney and chaired by Mark Millar, Company Secretary and General Counsel at Future, who demonstrated the scale of the problem by showing a range of sites returned by Google searches that illegally offer free downloads of apps and magazines. He also highlighted that some sites are generating revenues against the content through Google AdSense.
Millar said the booming tablet market made it an urgent issue for publishers: “The risk we face is when it [the iPad] becomes mass market. If we haven’t turned off the tap for pirate copies it will be too late.”
Further to anti-piracy enforcement measures, Hunter said publishers should also look to innovate online, learning from industries such as music that are regarded as several years ahead in facing digital copyright issues. She cited Wipro research showing a correlation between illegal downloads and price, indicating that consumers will pay for content but at the right price.
“The systems for stopping it [piracy] completely are, possibly, impossible,” she said. “A successful consumer strategy is really at the heart of it.”
The PPA will now take this issue forward in tandem with Google through the Government and Regulatory Affairs (GRAC) committee. For further information please contact Mark Burr on 0207 400 7520.