According to a new report, online piracy websites have experienced an 89 per cent decrease in web traffic since 2014, following a “downgrade” on piracy websites by Google.

Since the Digital Economy Bill was first unveiled during the Queen’s Speech in May, casual downloaders and web-browsers across the country have feared that they may be at risk of facing prosecution for ‘accidental’ and ‘low-level’ infringement – especially after the UK’s Digital Economy Bill recently proposed increased penalties for online copyright infringement.

Under the new proposals, infringers could face a maximum penalty of up to ten years’ imprisonment – as opposed to the current maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

As a result of Google’s ‘downgrading’ of online piracy websites on its search engine’s results pages, Google’s latest study, How Google Fights Piracy, has revealed that such websites have experienced a significant reduction in web traffic since 2014.

The premise behind Google’s concept is that if the general public are unable to search for or ‘stumble upon’ online piracy sites while watching, listening to, or downloading content online; copyright infringement will effectively be reduced – and individuals will be less likely to face legal action.

In addition, the UK Intellectual Property Office has recently called for increased crack downs on online copyright infringement and has also suggested that ‘low-level’ or ‘accidental’ infringers would be unlikely to face severe penalties for ‘casual downloading’.