Feeds

Google cache not a breach of copyright

Use of material fair, says court

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A US district court has ruled that Google’s cache feature, which allows users to access snapshots of web pages taken when they were viewed by Google robots, does not breach copyright in those web pages. The ruling could help its Google Print dispute.

Use of the material is a fair use, said the Court.

About Google's cache

Google refers to its cache to assess whether a page matches a search term. If it had to scan and assess every live web page in real time it would be a painfully slow search engine.

Access to the feature can be found at the foot of individual search results, where the word ‘cached’ appears as a link if the service is available. Google does not run the feature for sites that have not been indexed, or where site operators have requested that their content be left uncached. Such requests can be made with meta tags, the hidden HTML of a web page that provides information for a search engine.

Google promotes its cache as a back-up service that users can access if the original page is unavailable but it highlights each cached page as one that may not be the most up-to-date. The headline link in search results goes to the current page.

However, there has been concern as to whether this wholesale copying, storage and provision of web pages is a breach of the copyright held in those pages by authors and website operators.

According to Judge Robert C Jones of the Nevada District Court, the answer is no.

The ruling

The case was brought by author and lawyer Blake Field who had taken exception to Google’s caching of stories posted by Field on his website. He brought an action for copyright infringement, arguing that the Google cache feature allowed web users to access copies of his copyrighted material.

Judge Jones was not impressed.

“When a user requests a web page contained in the Google cache by clicking on a 'Cached' link, it is the user, not Google, who creates and downloads a copy of the cached web page. Google is passive in this process,” he wrote.

“Without the user’s request, the copy would not be created and sent to the user, and the alleged infringement at issue in this case would not occur. The automated, non-volitional conduct by Google in response to a user’s request does not constitute direct infringement under the Copyright Act,” he added.

In addition, the fact that Field, who had admitted he knew how to disable the caching feature, had not done so created "an implied licence in favour of Google", said Judge Jones. He also found that Google was entitled to the defence of "estoppel", which stops a plaintiff from enforcing his rights if to do so would be unfair on the defendant.

A new approach to endpoint data protection

More from The Register

next story
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?