Copyright immunity beckons for searchengines in UK

Mon 18 January 2010 13:45, Bas van den Beld

Copyright immunity beckons for searchengines in UK

While in one country (Germany) the government is doing all it can to stop Google from becoming even more influential, the other country (UK) decides to help search engines a little by changing the law.

A new proposed amendment to the Digital Economy Bill includes a proposal which could exempt search engines from copyright infringement claims from third parties.

The new law, proposed by conservative Lord Lucas states:

"Every provider of a publicly accessible website shall be presumed to give a standing and non-exclusive license to providers of search engine services to make a copy of some or all of the content of that website, for the purpose only of providing said search engine services ...

"A provider of search engine services who acts in accordance with this section shall not be liable for any breach of copyright..."

If this amendment would be accepted it would hand search engines, and with that thus Google, legal immunity when it comes to indexing content. Rupert Murdoch wouldn't be able to stop Google if he wanted to.

A robots.txt file saying 'do not index this page' could be seen as a website withholding the search engine the right to index the page.

The amendment is voted on tomorrow (Tuesday).


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  • In theory a good proposal, but in practice it opens a can of worms. Who gets to decide what is a search engine and what isn't? I'm afraid copyright lobbyists might yet send this amendment to the bin.

    Ma 18 jan 2010, 14:26

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