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A proposed amendment to a UK bill would give Google and other search engines immunity from copyright claims, basically giving Google permission to copy anything it pleases.
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Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 1721 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Yeah, yeah, simmer down there troll boy :)

So the actual article this is talking about from The Guardian says this proposal also says:

The presumption (of having an automatic license) may be rebutted by explicit evidence that such a licence was not granted. Such explicit evidence shall be found only in the form of statements in a machine-readable file to be placed on the website and accessible to providers of search engine services.

In other words, this gives robots.txt legal backing. You block that way, search engines can't index you. Fair enough. I mean, that's how things have worked for ages with the respected search engines. But if some rogue spider copied you, you couldn't easily claim a copyright violation because robots.txt had no force of law. Now, you could sue saying they'd been restricted and still indexed your content.




Avatar Moderator
from graywolf 1721 Days ago #
Votes: 3

being a troll boy ;-) and not a lawyer I may be missing something, but this seems pretty clear...

In other words, Google would be free to copy everything - but a publisherblocking search spiders with a robots.txt file would be taken as withholding that right. An explicit "fair use" provision, which Google often cites against copyright-abuse claims, does not exist in UK law.

Google can copy whatever it wants, unless you block it with robots, so if you want to retain you copyright then you do so by slitting your own throat for search engine traffic. That just doesn't make any sense for anyone ... except google



Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 1721 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I know you want this to be all Google, but it's not. It's for search engines, big and small. So if you want me to pay attention, stop painting this as a Google-only get out of jail free card.

Now, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have been merrily copying things all the time for years in the UK. And you know, it won't take much digging to find UK governmental bodies that are merrily running Google or other-powered search engines. In fact, the BBC at one point was running its own search engine powered by Inktomi. Now do you think the BBC was running around doing that thinking, hmm, we have no fair use copyright provisions to index content, so we must be violating copyright, but screw it -- go for it.

But hey, let's decide you're right. Search engines have been violating copyright all these years in the UK. What would you like to be done about that, Michael? I mean, what's your solution?

Do you want all pages they have been indexed to be dropped? Do you want each of the site owners to be individually phoned up and permision obtained? What are you going to do about pages that have no owners that can be identified?

Here's a reasonable thought. How about having a way for a web site to flag whether it wants to be copied or not by a search engine automatically. How might we do that.

Oh, maybe we could use a standard that's been around for years -- robots.txt. If you block, you withhold permission. If you don't, then when a search engine asks explicitly for your permission when requesting that file, and sees there's no block, then they're good.

Now if you really want to do something, why don't you actually dig through the proposed law and see if there are better holes in it. What specific rights does a search engine get? I'm assuming the right to index  your page and to reprint it through caching (which using robots.txt can specifically be withheld). I'm assuming they don't get to reprint offline, like make a book of your site. They might be restricted in other ways. Go check that out and see if there are real worries. But also, since you can revoke your permission at any time using robots.txt, it seems like no smart publisher is going to do anything like this.







Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 1721 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Here's the full amendment that's proposed:

(1)      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.

(2)      The presumption referred to in subsection (1) may be rebutted by explicit evidence that such a licence was not granted.

(3)      Such explicit evidence shall be found only in the form of statements in a machine-readable file to be placed on the website and accessible to providers of search engine services.

(4)      A provider of search engine services who acts in accordance with this section shall not be liable for any breach of copyright in respect of the actions described in subsection (1).""

So my quick read. You get permission only to include these works in a search "service." The big weakness is the word "standing." It should probably be tied more to section 3 to say that the standing license can be revoked at any time through the machine readable file. Even better would be a time provision on when the content must be removed (within a day, within a week, etc.)

Overall, I think an actual law would be good, because it wouldn't just protect search engines, it would protect copyright holders (in the US, right now caching is deemed legal in the main court case that's ruled on it). So again, look at the amendment, how would you improve it? Or what would be your perfect law or perfect solution on how you think search engines should behave?




Avatar Moderator
from graywolf 1721 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Agreed I don't like Bing or Yahoo having it either but Google is the 800lb gorilla in the room. It's no different than doing a budget you start with the biggest expenses first not the nickels and dimes.

No I don't believe search engines should store a publicly accessible copy of your website on their servers. if they need to store a copy for internal algo purposes only I'm fine with it, but for external use not so much. it's no different than you photocopying a magazine or book for your own personal use, it's just a much larger scale.

If there is no obvious owner there is someone paying a hosting bill somewhere. Put your stuff up on blogspot or wordpress, well if you can't cover the hosting, and you cant pay the $40 it costs to file for a copyright (yes it's $40 to file a copyright and about 30-60 minutes of forms) then you probably don't care enough about your work. As a content creator you do have to do something to protect yourself, we don't need copyright welfare handouts.



Avatar Moderator
from graywolf 1721 Days ago #
Votes: 0

here's the issue what if Google decides to take your content which it now has the right to use, and decides that instead of serving it from your website they do it from their own, because they can do it faster, and create a better user experience. Then what if they decide to show ads next to it on their servers. Because we just gave away copyright to them you're screwed.

You know as well as I do Google thinks all information should be free ... with a bit of contextual advertising that google gets all or piece of the action from wrapped around it



Avatar
from andymurd 1721 Days ago #
Votes: 2

As I understand the legislation, it does not allow search engines to republish your content. There's a big difference in UK law between making a copy and making copies available.

Publishers still retain copyright, but they (implicitly) allow search engines to make a copy.

I don't think that this legislation covers the Google cache, as we know that it's possible to opt out of the cache but remain in the index. So Google cache is not necessary "for the purpose only of providing said search engine services". The cache essentially republishes copyrighted works and is probably illegal in the UK.



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from AlanBleiweiss 1721 Days ago #
Votes: 3

And here's my concern.  " for the purpose only of providing said search engine services." The way Google's been moving, they're providing "search engine services" by offering all sorts of content where only organics used to be.  What's to stop them or Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine from offering those full featured real estate listings that they've culled from the web here?  All of a sudden, Google's in the real estate listing business, having gotten the bulk of their data from their freedom to gather and store all that data that came from other sites.  And they just have to say - Hey - we're not in the business of real estate listings, this is just another "search engine service".


I think that leaves a massive door open for any search engine to scrape content and use it for their own financial gain way beyond the concept of what we perceive to be a search engine's services today.



Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 1721 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Graywolf, OK, so you think it's OK to copy a page for indexing purposes but not for display purposes (IE, showing a cached copy). This covers that (since you can block caching with a machine readable file). So what's the problem you have with this law. Seems to simply make legally exactly what you agree with. Right now, you might face a court case because there's no law covering cached uses, much less indexing, in the UK.

On asking permission, over at Google, I can put content up for free. Google doesn't own that content. It can't agree or disagree to issue copyright permissions over it. So again, how do you ask for permission to index in an efficient manner.

And again, this isn't just Google. Remember when a number of SEOs disagreed with being in LinkScape and wanted to robots.txt themselves out? But there was no public agent they could block? A law like this, done. You could block it. And potentially, even if the excuse gets trotted out that some of the data came from other sources such as Google, you could still argue that you don't care. That's a search service, and it's required to allow you to opt-out. Required by the law, not just some voluntary thing. Site owners get som real rights with it.

Alan, what's stopping them now? Real estate listings are a search service. And they index content already. If someone doesn't want them mining the data, then they block Google. Though potentially, this law could require search engines to allow opting out of specific services. IE, if there's Google Real Estate, and they don't offer an opt out for that, you could argue this law says they need to.




Avatar Moderator
from graywolf 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 2

>So what's the problem you have with this law

this part "for the purpose only of providing said search engine services"

It's a vague amorphous blob. Can them deciding to display my from their own servers and not mine, fall into that bucket of "search engine services" sure it can, so can 100 other uses i can't even think of. Allowing them to copy and use it internally for the purpose providing search engine results, without displaying it, allows google to do what it needs to, and closes the door on the possibility of them, displaying it an way that's not beneficial to it's rightful owner.

Sure thay may say that not the way they see themselves or not what they want to do ... now ... but Google is filled with backtracking hypocrisy, the phone they just used to buy links that said they where never going to make, the ads they show next to content, the ads they "forgot" to show on Google news ... the list is quite long

If you want to start with legislation you deal with the biggest issues/problems first aka Google not the littlest one aka linkscape.



Avatar Moderator
from graywolf 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Let's make this really personal, let's say Google decides that the pages on search engine land take too long to load, and don't create a good user experience. They decide to provide that good user experience by showing the cached copy of the content from your site with the new google service "google fast view" directly from Google. That clearly fits in the definition of "providing said search engine services" or more correctly it doesn't prevent them from doing it, I know what a search engine result is, but a search engine service could be anything bigger than a breadbox and smaller than the empire state building.

Since you use page views as part of the metric you use to set your advertising rate card, google has reached into your wallet and taken money out of it. What if Google decides to show ads next to your cached "google fast view". Google made themselves your partner getting a piece of the action whether you like it or not. You also don't get to control your own advertising rates, you are stuck with the black box that is google adsense.




Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Sphunn for the discussion here. Good points and lots to think about!



Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Sure, they could decide to display your page as part of search "services." They do that now. But with an actual law, you could prevent them from doing so and go to court saying they're in violation of a specific law that says they can't do that. Today, in the UK, you'd be all "my lord, they've violated my copyright," and they'd be all, "my lord, we've done nothing of the kind."

In terms of us here, I put up a blocking code, my pages aren't cached. By the way, if I try that here in the US, so far the case law in the US is that Google could ignore me. That we've had a court rule that cached copies are all hunky dory. And we've got no actual law about how search engines operate that I can use to day bull.

But again, what do you propose. And spare me again the argument "you deal with Google first." There's a solid argument that rogue spiders are a far bigger problem for many site owners than they are. There's a better argument that there's no particular Google-only issue to deal with. I mean, what is your Google law then?



Avatar Moderator
from graywolf 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 3

In every book I bought in my life there was copyright note in the front that said something to the effect of "not reproduce this book by electrical or mechanical means". Google pretty much ignored that that in typical "I'm the mommy and I said so" fashion started scanning them anyway. Then we got into a whole debate after the fact about copyright law, and book scanning, after the fact and Google bullied the publishers and legal system into accepting peanuts.

So you may not want to make it about google but for a company with a track record for ignoring things that are in pretty plain english, and flagrantly ignoring copyright, I say Google merits special attention.

I think giving a preemptive unconditional surrender to Google in any copyright dispute, isn't a negotiating tactic that's in anyone but google's best interests.



Avatar
from Gab 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"Today, in the UK, you'd be all "my lord, they've violated my copyright," and they'd be all, "my lord, we've done nothing of the kind.""

ahhahaha classic line Danny :).

@Mike I buy your argument that Google could do all these nasty things as part of 'search engine services' but you seem to miss Danny's point that you can block the lot of those services with robots.txt . Unless you mean that they'd ignore robots.txt the same way they ignored copyright notices in books?



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from WebmasterT 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Lets face it Google's prime objective is to decrease the engaement off of Google, Bing does that to some degree as well. If people aren't concerned about the Commerce Product, direct Sales of Nexus One and the AdWords Lead generating forms then you're sleeping better than I. Robots.txt is the ultimate SE's joke on webmasters. Perhaps this law will change it but I doubt it. It's still a toothless wonder that www.robots.txt.org fell off the face a while back so... just another SE tool meant to lull is to sleep.



Avatar Moderator
from graywolf 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@gab Lets say I want the content of my website to be searchable via google, but I don't want them to have the ability to display it and I'm not willing to give google the copyright to it. If I use robots.txt that's not a condition that can exist.

Search engine services is incredibly vague, Google has it's hands in a lot of places, is gmail a search engine service, how about google maps, or google bookmarks ...

Google has a really bad history with copyright, they named the nexus one phone to as a tribute to the author phillip dick, but his family who owns the copyright is not happy cause they weren't consulted and aren't getting compensated for the use of their IP.

Paramount which owns star trek owns the term holodeck do you think google consulted with them when they named the experimental product they unveiled last year, or did they just steam roll forward.



Avatar Administrator
from Michelle 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Google is the dominant player, the one that stands to gain the most from pushing the envelope and treading over everyone's copyrights as they regularly do online and offline....so I understand why @graywolf puts them front and center.  But a law like this targets all similar services. There's no "dealing with Google first" because laws aren't meant to target a given transgressor but to broadly apply to all.

Semantics aside, I think @graywolf's point about the potential and way too broadly defined 'search services' any company could conjure up is valid.

Most dangerous of all imo, is the combination of Google's belief that everything should be public and available to them to data-mine - er, search - and present as they please; along with their army of lawyers and lobbyists that ensure that their business goals as a MEDIA company can be accomplished unimpeded. They may just be one of many spiders, but they are the ones leading the fight to break open the copyright laws.




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from dmmink 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Some good points here on both sides.  It is also worth considering that this law seems to have some serious international problems.  If Google can legally copy anything they want in the UK but not in the US, copyright holders can simply sue Google in the US.  However, that probably will not happen very much as most copyright holders would not go after Google if they want Google to index their material...



Avatar Administrator
from Michelle 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@dmmink that's really the crux of the issue isn't it? google sits on market share that has so far been untouchable. they provide/control a tremendous amount of traffic which in turns affects brand visibility as well as ROI.  so do you bite the hand that feeds you and risk a 'fluctuation in the index' that results in your site dropping down or off; or do you vigorously defend and protect your rights?  i know of *very big* brands that have tangled with the google legal dept. over copyright infringement, but they stop short of legal action because they are well aware of the implications such a thing could result in - monetarily and otherwise.

i also know that google will violate copyright first, and ask questions/plead ignorance later. and sometimes, they'll just ignore the request and transgress anyway. given the size of their legal department and how vigorously they protect their own IP - the ignorance and 'aw shucks, we're all just havin fun, playin foosball and drinkin mountain dew over here' doesn't really hold water - but they get away with it because of their significant influence, and their own deft marketing of their brand.




Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"So you may not want to make it about google but for a company with a track record for ignoring things that are in pretty plain english, and flagrantly ignoring copyright, I say Google merits special attention."

I think Google should have requested permission of book owners before scanning, since there was no automated way for them to opt out. But it remains unknown if they violated the law in the US or not on that. And this law that we're talking about is pretty specific about web sites. So one last time, then I give up. What law would you propose? Again, all this law does is actually make into the entirely voluntary system for indexing web sites that all major search engines have followed for ages (and, I'll add, that was in place before Google existed).

Michelle, you don't know that Google will violate copyright first and ask question later. You only know that they make assumptions of what's legal about copyright that you and/or others might not agree with. I can't recall a major case in the US where Google's actually been found guilty of mass copyright theft. There have been a few scattered cases in various countries, and they're often very specific in nature and some are still in appeal.





Avatar Administrator
from Michelle 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Danny - you're right, I don't know what they *will do* but I do know what they *have done* - and what they have done, was to knowingly violate copyright of another company's IP.  Upon learning of their intentions, said company contacted the google legal dept. and gave them specific instructions as to what they could/could not do and even how they needed to present the legal line with what they were given approval to use. And they ignored it. Flat out ignored it. They were confronted about it afterward and basically said that they decided their interpretation of fair use was correct. If it had gone to court, I guarantee you they would have lost (this company has won time and again in court over *the very same* issues).  Only one aspect of this relates to them violating this particular company's copyrights online btw - the other violations have been offline.  Not even talking about indexing issues actually.

And note, a couple of years after that first incident, Google *again* violated the *same* company's copyrighted IP - based upon their own "interpretation" of it I suspect.  This is the gamble Google takes. The "so sue us" approach.  They know the laws (they just don't like them), and they also know they can keep a company tied up in court for years, and that unless huge amounts of money are on the line, most companies won't pursue legal remedy. But it doesn't mean they aren't flagrantly violating copyrights. It just means they are getting away with it.

If past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, my assumption stands.



Avatar Moderator
from graywolf 1720 Days ago #
Votes: 1

>I can't recall a major case in the US where Google's actually been found guilty of mass copyright theft.

I seem to remember more than a few articles that you've written covering local and state governments and court systems making rulings that really weren't enforceable with Google and showed a complete lack of understanding of how search engines worked. If I recall when the Bush administration initially tried to get information about searches, they where asking for a few CD's when in reality it would have been terabytes of data. We are in uncharted territory here, and I don't think relying on people who think the internet is a bunch of tubes is prudent decision.

Why the entire book scanning thing is stuck in a legal quagmire is really quite baffling, except when you factor in nobody wants to stand up to Google. If scanning a book isn't violating the "this book may not be reproduced by any means electrical or mechanical" restriction I don't know how much clearer we could make that.

Yes copyright is broken. We've moved forward and the laws haven't come close to keeping up with the progress of technology. Google's business models are radically disruptive to many industries, and we haven't figured out how to fix things yet. So giving Google or any search engine any more legal latitude just doesn't seem like a good idea ... in fact it's like giving a Ferrari to your son who is waiting to go to trial for speeding and reckless driving.




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from searchengineman 1719 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Danny Sullivan - Graywolf Battle.(Comment from the peanut gallery)

I have no right to go barging into your physical house and using the place as I see fit in the real world. Even though I don't physically own the location of the stored data (my content)

Is this not the same as renting a lockbox at a storage site?The debate is about copyright, but is this really about privacy.  Keeping my stuff out of use from Joe Public, like a locked door, if I give out keys to my lockbox - thats my business. But that does not mean my friends (Google) can make copies of my key and open up a museum of my stuff.

Searchengineman



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