Search engines may well get immunity from UK copyright infringement laws thanks to a proposed amendment to the Digital Economy Bill. Conservative peer, Lord Lucas – which really is an awesome title – has put forward the amendment (entitled, ‘Protection of search engines from liability for copyright infringement’) to the recently announced Bill and the important bit reads as follows:
“Every provider of a publicly accessible website shall be presumed to give a standing and non-exclusive licence 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…”
Lord Lucas, who in December compared P2P sites with sharing a newspaper, also added that, “A provider of search engine services who acts in accordance with this section shall not be liable for any breach of copyright…”
Now, there are no guarantees that this will come to pass as there are 299 other proposed amendments to the Bill which will be discussed in the Houses of Parliament next Tuesday (19 January). However, anyone who uses Google News should be hoping that Lucas’ particular suggestion gains support.
As Ian Douglas points out in The Telegraph today, “Every provider of a publicly-accessible website shall be presumed to give a standing and non-exclusive licence to search engines to copy their content for the purposes of searching. A machine-readable file (robots.txt, for example) can be used to demonstrate that such a licence is not granted, should the owners of the website prefer not to be indexed. Brilliant. Immediately all of the rows and back-and-forth between ill-advised newspapers and publishers is given a clear legal footing.”