Feeds

Google wins Usenet copyright case

Search engine allowed to search

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Google has won a legal action brought over a Usenet posting that the search giant archived and partially displayed in search results. Writer Gordon Roy Parker had claimed that this breached his copyright in the posting, a chapter of an e-book.

Parker, who represented himself in the suit, publishes online under the name “Snodgrass Publishing Group”. One of his publications was an e-book entitled “29 Reasons Not To Be A Nice Guy” and at some time he posted Reason 6 from this book onto a Usenet forum, the worldwide network of discussion groups.

In August 2004 he filed a lawsuit, alleging that when Google robots had automatically scanned and archived the posting in a cache, the search engine had breached his copyright in the material. Google had also directly infringed his copyright by including excerpts of the text in search results, he said.

Judge R Barclay Surrick of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania did not agree.

“It is clear that Google’s automatic archiving of Usenet postings and excerpting of websites in its results to users’ search queries do not include the necessary volitional element to constitute direct copyright infringement,” he wrote.

Nor did he accept that the automatic caching of material amounted to infringement, following a January ruling by the Navada District Court on this very point.

There was no contributory copyright infringement either, said Judge Surrick. Parker had claimed that Google was in breach because it allowed others to view infringed content, but had not provided evidence – particularly in relation to Google’s knowledge of the supposedly infringing activity – to support this claim.

Parker also alleged that Google was guilty of defamation because it archived defamatory comments made about the writer in other Usenet postings and websites.

But Judge Surrick dismissed the claim, advising that Google was immune from prosecution in respect of third party postings by virtue of a provision in the Communications Decency Act. This generally grants immunity from suit to those who provide material on the internet that was written by others.

The Communications Decency Act also protected Google against Parker’s claims in respect of invasion of privacy and negligence, wrote the Judge. He then dismissed other claims in respect of alleged racketeering and civil conspiracy on the grounds that they were “completely incomprehensible”. Parker is planning to appeal, according to reports.

The ruling (pdf)

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

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

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.