Google and Microsoft's Bing have signed up to the Voluntary Code of Practice for demoting copyright infringing websites in search results.

The entertainment industry along with the search engines reached an agreement after the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) brokered talks on the issue. The code was agreed on 9 February and would come into effect by 1 June.

The talks were led by the IPO with the help of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The initiative was supported by Ofcom by exploring techniques that could be used to prevent consumers being led to copyright infringing websites, according to a BBC report.

The existing anti-piracy measures in the UK include court-ordered site blocking, efforts to reduce advertising appearing on illegal websites and Get it Right From A Genuine Site education campaign.

"Sometimes people will search for something and they will end up unwittingly being taken to a pirated piece of content," Eddy Leviten, director general at trade body the Alliance for Intellectual Property, told the BBC.

"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," said Leviten.

Welcoming the latest move, Stan McCoy of the Motion Picture Association in Europe, said pirated websites are currently too easy to find via search engines.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of music industry body BPI, said in a statement: "Successful and dynamic online innovation requires an ecosystem that works for everyone, users, technology companies, and artists and creators.

"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."

Matt Hancock, the Minister of State for Digital and Culture, added: "We are one of the world's leading digital nations, and we have a responsibility to make sure that consumers have easy access to legal content online. Pirate sites deprive artists and rights holders of hard-earned income and I'm delighted to see industry led solutions like this landmark agreement which will be instrumental in driving change.

"As we build a more global Britain we want the UK to be the most innovative country to do business, and initiatives like this will ensure our creative and digital economies continue to thrive."