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Google cache not a breach of copyright

Use of material fair, says court

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"This ruling makes it clear that the Google cache is legal and clears away copyright questions that have troubled the entire search engine industry," said Fred von Lohmann, EFF senior staff attorney. "The ruling should also help Google in defending against the lawsuit brought by book publishers over its Google Library Project, as well as assisting organisations like the Internet Archive that rely on caching."

Caching in the UK

In the UK, the E-commerce Regulations protect search engines. They provide that a company like Google will not be liable in damages (or other remedy or criminal sanction) where the caching is "automatic, intermediate and temporary for the sole purpose of providing a more efficient service".

Relevance to Google Print dispute

Google is currently being sued by US authors and publishers over its Google Print project, an ambitious plan to digitally scan library collections so that books can be matched to internet search queries.

The company has been accused of copyright infringement on a massive scale because the scanning takes place without permission from copyright holders.

A user searching Google Print sees links on the results pages when there are books relevant to his query. Clicking on a title will deliver a page from which the user can either browse the full text of the work – if copyright has expired – or brief excerpts and/or bibliographic data where the work is still protected by copyright. Links to booksellers are also provided.

Google says this is a fair use, not infringement. It is, in effect, caching the books to assist with search activity. The company stops short of revealing any more than minimal information without express permission.

Google has invited any copyright holder to opt-out; but the upset copyright holders argue that Google's activities should be opt-in.

While only a district court ruling, Judge Jones's opinion supports the arguments that Google has asserted over Google Print, which have still to be tested in court.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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