Illegally streamed live football matches, pirated music and other creative material will be more difficult to search for under a plan to crack down on piracy websites.
Google and Bing have signed up to a voluntary code of practice aimed at protecting users’ safety and preventing them from visiting disreputable content providers.
Demotion of illegal sites will be accelerated by the code, which is the first of its kind in the UK.
Anyone who searches for content such as music videos, digital books and football coverage will more likely be taken to bona fide providers rather than pirate sites where a user’s security may be at risk.
Eddy Leviten, director general at the Alliance for Intellectual Property, said: “Sometimes people will search for something and they will end up unwittingly being taken to a pirated piece of content.
“What we want to ensure is that the results at the top of the search engines are the genuine ones.
“It is about protecting people who use the internet, but also protecting the creators of that material too.”
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) led the discussions to create the code, with the assistance of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Ofcom has examined in detail the way that search results are presented to internet users, and explored possible techniques and metrics that make it easier for UK consumers avoid illegitimate content.
The code, expected to be rolled out in the summer, will run in parallel with existing anti-piracy measures aimed at reducing online infringement.
These include court-ordered site blocking, work with brands to reduce advertising on illegal sites, and the Get it Right From A Genuine Site consumer education campaign, which encourages fans to value the creative process and directs them to legal sources of content.
Stan McCoy, of the Motion Picture Association in Europe, said: “Pirate websites are currently much too easy to find via search, so we appreciate the parties’ willingness to try to improve that situation.
“We look forward to working on this initiative alongside many other approaches to fighting online piracy.”
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of BPI, representative body for UK record labels, and the Brit Awards, said: “The code will not be a silver bullet fix, but it will mean that illegal sites are demoted more quickly from search results and that fans searching for music are more likely to find a fair site.”