A new voluntary scheme is being proposed in the UK which would punish copyright infringing sites and boost links to websites that have licenses to sell music, film and TV content.

According to the Register, the site certification scheme is being put forward by the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI), the Motion Pictures Association (MPA), the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), The Premier League and the Publishers Association.

In the proposal, titled 'Responsible Practices for Search Engines in Reducing Online Infringement: Proposal for a Code of Practice', which has fallen into the hands of the Open Rights Group, it states that search engines which sign up to the code should stop indexing illicit content, so that legitimate content is easier to find on the web.

"We propose that in order to further protect consumers and to encourage responsible behaviour among websites, the extent of illegal content on a website should become a factor influencing the ranking of that website in search results returned to consumers," explained the proposal.

"In addition, where a site has been found by a court to be substantially infringing, it should no longer be crawled, indexed or linked at all."

Responsible practices

It also wants certain search terms to redirect to legitimate content, with the proposal noting: "To use the example of music, we would propose that prioritisation be enabled for searches that contain any of the following key search terms: "mp3", "flac", "wma", "aac", "torrent", "download", "rip", "stream" or "listen", "free", when combined with an artist name, song or album title contained on a list to be regularly updated and provided to a search engine by a recognised and properly mandated agency representing rights holders for a particular sector, such as BPI."

The issue of piracy on the web has never been more prescient, but as we have seen with SOPA in the US, any scheme which messes with the openness of the internet is going to create a backlash – something the authors of this proposal, if it is ever accepted, will have to take into consideration.

Via the Register