Google Rapped By MPs Over Piracy Steps
MPs have accused Google of failing to crack down on illegal downloads and using "flimsy" excuses for its lack of action.
The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee declared it was "unimpressed" with the internet giant for not tackling online piracy.
Chairman John Whittingdale called its efforts "derisory" and "simply unacceptable", and warned of damage to the UK's creative industries.
The committee's critical report also revealed how one Conservative minister complained during his evidence that Google officials have better access to Downing Street than he does.
It said: "We have also heard complaints from across the creative spectrum about the perceived power and influence of Google in the Government's inner, policy-making sanctum."
The report said Intellectual Property Minister Lord Younger had told MPs: "Google is one of several search engines. I am very aware of their power, put it that way.
"I am also very aware, I think, that they have access, for whatever reason, to higher levels than me in No 10, I understand."
Questions have previously been raised about David Cameron's links to the firm, where his close friend Rachel Whestone is global head of communications.
Mr Cameron used to work with her at Carlton Television and she is also married to his former policy adviser Steve Hilton.
It was reported last year that Tory ministers had held meetings with Google around once a month since the 2010 election.
The committee wants an Intellectual Property (IP) champion to be appointed and for the maximum penalty for online IP theft to be increased from two years in jail to 10.
Mr Whittingdale said sectors including the film and music business were of huge importance to our economy, but were being put at risk.
Creators must be able to rely on a "strong framework of intellectual property rights which are robustly enforced", Mr Whittingdale added.
He continued: "We are also unimpressed by Google's continued failure to stop directing consumers to illegal, copyright infringing material on the flimsy excuse that some of the sites may also host some legal content.
"The continuing promotion of illegal content through search engines is simply unacceptable, and efforts to stop it have so far been derisory.
"There is no reason why they cannot demote and ultimately remove sites hosting large amounts of illegal material from search engine results.
"Google and others already work with international law enforcement to block for example child porn from search results and it has provided no coherent, responsible reason why it can't do the same for illegal, pirated content. Copyright infringement is a serious crime that threatens our economic future."
Under plans unveiled by communications watchdog Ofcom last year, consumers face a "three strikes and you're out" policy on illegal downloads.
The biggest internet service providers will be warned about breaches by industry bodies and will then write to customers about the allegations.
If someone receives three or more letters within 12 months, copyright holders such as record labels or film studios can ask for them to be identified so that they can face legal action.
UK Music - an umbrella body representing music producers - agreed with MPs that the continued promotion of illegal content by search engines was unacceptable.
Chief executive Jo Dipple said: "Google has to stop feeding up unlicensed free content. Google has to start acknowledging the responsibility it has to the consumers it serves. It is very un-British to ride so roughshod over our customers. It has to stop."
But a Google spokesman said: "We removed more than 20 million links to pirated content from our search results in the last month alone.
"But search is not the problem - according to Ofcom just 8% of infringers in the UK use Google to find unlicensed films and 13% to find unlicensed music.
"Google works harder than anyone to help the film and music industry protect their content online."