Technology

Google 'in talks to cut funding to illegal piracy sites'

Google employee at desk
Google is under pressure to combat the spread of illegal websites

Google executives are in talks with Visa, Paypal and Mastercard to block illegal websites from receiving funding, the Telegraph has reported.

It might mean Google could avoid making more alterations to its search results to disadvantage illegal sites, the report said.

Google has in the past urged authorities to "follow the money" when it comes to stamping out piracy sites.

Similar blocking measures were put in place against the Wikileaks website.

The site, which published large amounts of classified documents, had its funding sources strangled by firms who were reportedly pressured by US authorities into taking action.

The move was controversial, with many calling for boycotts of the companies involved.

Choking business

Google would not comment directly on reports it was having discussions with payment companies, but it stressed it had stepped up its efforts on piracy in the past year.

"Google has never worked harder to tackle piracy online," the company said in a statement.

"Last month alone we removed over 14 million links to pirated material.

"There are also huge and growing opportunities for content creators to make money online, which is why so many have signed up to Google Play and as YouTube partners."

In a report published last year, Google - in partnership with PRS for Music - outlined ways to choke businesses making money from illegal activity.

The report analysed various funding models in use by sites offering music downloads, movie streaming and other unlicensed content.

Google's concluded that it was important to tackle the piracy problem at source by targeted companies which advertise on piracy sites - as well as payment providers that enable the collection of subscription money.

However, Google has been forced to demote certain websites in its search rankings, amid criticism it was easier to find piracy sites over legitimate music stores.

Paypal has yet to respond to the reports, while Visa told the BBC it would not be making a comment.

In a statement, Mastercard said: "Mastercard takes online safety and security seriously.

"We work closely with our part­ners to ensure the best possible experience when using elec­tronic payments."

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