Court Says Google Cache Is Fair Use

from the we'll-be-hearing-more-about-this dept

With all the controversy over Google's Library scanning project, one of the more interesting questions is if courts find the project to be infringement, it also probably means that the rest of Google is infringing -- as conceptually it's the same thing. Rather than books, Google is simply scanning websites and storing the index on its own machines -- and also offering up the cache for display. Apparently one guy got so upset about this that he sued over Google's cache. However, a district court has granted summary judgment in favor of Google, saying that the cache is fair use and that the since the guy took no action to remove his content from Google's cache, it was an implied license for Google to scan and keep the content in its cache. This is just one case in one district court, but the ruling should still be useful in defending the Google Library project as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Bob, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 3:45pm

    Correct

    At first glance I thought to agree with the plaintiff, however I believe the court is correct in that the content, once uploaded to the web, is considered fair use.

    As long as Google is not plaigirising or violating copyright in any way, the cache is a completely legitimate method of accessing content. Once you upload, you make your information publicly accessible; anyone could then cache and store your content on their servers. That is the price you pay for making your website public and viewable to all. You can't have it both ways.

    If Google chooses to cache any and all web content, then that is their business. However, everyone else is allowed to cache as well, they could even cache Google if they wanted to (although there doesn't seem much point to that)

     

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  2.  
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    Rick, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 4:26pm

    No sure I agree...

    What one site like google might term "caching", another might refer to as "plagiarism." Consider, for a moment, the many sites whose business model revolves around advertising. As much as we all hate those pop-up ads and flash banners, they financially support some of the websites we enjoy. If that same content were syndicated and available on other websites (like google) that don't display the same advertising, why would anyone ever visit the original website?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 4:46pm

    hell, other web services cache pages, right?

    so whats the problem when the most popular company on the web does something companies only slightly less popular already do???

    as for their book project: its not ripping the entire text, its only showing a few sentences, just enough to explain whatever the person searched for (from what I've read anyway, thats how it will work)...

     

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  4.  
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    Kevin, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 4:50pm

    Re: Correct

    As much as I love the Google cache, authors should be able to control their intellectual property. The short snippets that Google shows in the search results are indeed a fair use of the material just as quoting copyrighted materials is in print. But making the entire creative work available cannot be considered 'fair use' and this judgement should be reversed.

     

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  5.  
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    mark, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 5:09pm

    might be a good idea

    to get some of these in court. As the courts agree with Google, it will set a precedent in the upcoming, more valuable cases.

     

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  6.  
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    Dosquatch, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Correct

    the content, once uploaded to the web, is considered fair use [...] Once you upload, you make your information publicly accessible; anyone could then cache and store your content on their servers. That is the price you pay for making your website public and viewable to all. You can't have it both ways.

    I'm not sure this holds water. Normally sane people get flakey about what's kosher and what's not once a computer happens to be involved.

    So, what you're saying is that anything ever posted to a website reachable by other people is fair game to be reused? Let's apply this to television - isn't this like saying that once a new episode of a show is aired, it's fair game for me to reuse and/or rebroadcast it however I see fit?

    This is obviously not the case with television, the rights to broadcast and distribute remain with the copyright holder. Why wouldn't web content work the same way?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Rob, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 5:29pm

    Re: Correct

    What if .....
    A user subscribes to a pay for content site, lets say the Wall Street Journal for this example. The user finds an article of interest that supports a contention on his blog. He copies the content and posts it to his site.
    Now, lets ignore for the time being the legality of his action. Google scans the users site and places the information in its search results thereby making it searchable and accessible to the millions of Google users.
    What is the legality of this cached content?
    Just wondering

     

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  8.  
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    Chris, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 5:34pm

    Re: No sure I agree...

    >> If that same content were syndicated and available on other websites (like google) that don't display the same advertising, why would anyone ever visit the original website?

    Sites that are static and change almost never could come from the cache sure. To get the fresh content from a frequently updated page you would have to visit the real server and not the cache.

    The question would have to be aimed back at the web site. If your site is isn't actively maintained enough that all their content is your site even valuable?

     

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  9.  
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    Taylor, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 6:14pm

    Google is becoming evil.

    Google is getting evil and greedy. You see it in adsense and everywhere else. The amount of information google has access to is insane, and nothing is safe.

     

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  10.  
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    Trey, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 6:25pm

    Paranoia

    There's being conerned, and there's being paranoid...

     

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  11.  
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    Aaron Friel, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 7:04pm

    Re: Correct

    How so? The google cache is an exact copy of the page, including copyright information. Not only this, google explicitly states that they are not affiliated with the content. To top it off, ad links, bars, &c. remain functional, so the argument that ad revenue is taken is false. Whereas your argument would be legitimate if Google somehow claimed propriety or use of the material for their own purposes, there are no ads, Google content, or other material linked to except information about the cache itself and the webpage it was taken from. Google does not alter the site's format in any way, nor does it intend to replace the site in providing content. In short, Google is merely allowing access for fair use. They don't profit from it, using their cache means you click away from their adlinks.

     

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  12.  
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    Jon, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Google is becoming evil.

    Who ever said that the internet was PRIVATE domain? AFAIK, if you don't put search terms in your code then the webcrawlers (from google, yahoo, msn search, ask jeeves, tc.) cannot "crawl" your site.

    I think many people are scared because google is becoming more than just a great search engine, they're offering everything. Once again, it falls comes down to choice in what you want to use.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Bob, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 12:39am

    Re: Correct

    "Let's apply this to television... Why wouldn't web content work the same way?"

    Because not everyone is a broadcaster in the realm of television. Everyone, however, is a broadcaster on the web.

    Take for example that 5 corporations own about 90% of television today (via subsidiaries, financial stakes and what have you). Those 5 corporations can be very exclusive about what they consider copyright, and what they do not. The remainder 10% simply fall in line. The FCC also strictly regulates the medium to which content is broadcast.. so it is quite difficult for a rogue producer to instantly violate copyright on television. The cost of equipment to broadcast is a barrier to entry for the average Joe. It is purposely designed this way as a measure of control, and more importantly to keep the courts free of thousands of frivolous suits that would come about otherwise.

    Now consider the web. No company or group of companies has control, and there are billions of webpages indexed throughout. There is no FCC for the web, or similar policing authority to regulate content. There is little to no equipment cost, short of notepad and a few jpegs, so instant copyright violation becomes a real possibility. Can you imagine the gridlock in the courts if every web author suddenly claimed a copyright violation for each little thing? The court has no desire to hear of copyright violations of a cached photograph of someone's pet parakeet. There's simply too much pointless noise abound, and more important cases to hear.

    The web doesn't bend to your will, rather it's you that must bend to it's will. It's not a TV either.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    MadJo, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 4:06am

    Re: Correct

    "authors should be able to control their intellectual property."
    You can, Google Cache adheres to your robot.txt settings.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Dosquatch, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 5:18am

    Re: Correct

    Because not everyone is a broadcaster in the realm of television. Everyone, however, is a broadcaster on the web.

    So, too, is everyone on the web a viewer. Not that either point is relevant.

    Now consider the web. No company or group of companies has control, [...] There is no FCC for the web, or similar policing authority to regulate content.

    Also not relevant - copyright law does not require a new government agency in order to apply. It states only that the creator of a work retains say over how, when, for what and by whom that work may be used. I understand that the copies in Google's index and cache exist to drive traffic back to the author. I don't understand why the author would consider this a bad thing. But I do assert that he is within his rights to control how his creative work is used.

    Essentially, what I'm saying is that the act of putting it on a web page does NOT make it public domain, any more than putting it in a book makes it public domain, or broadcasting it on television makes it public domain. Copyright allows certain uses (snippets for review, parody, etc), but it does NOT allow wholesale duplication without the owner's consent. Yes, even on the web.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Jeff, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 6:41am

    Re: Correct

    Why would you post your intellectual property on the open internet? Perhaps password acccess to special sections of your web page.

    Does everyone really think intellectual property and copyright for words, music, (i.e. things that can be transmitted on the internet) is really going to last? IMHO, copyright is slowly weakening away. When you spend more time trying to enforce copyright that actually creating new material you are really going nowhere.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Dosquatch, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 9:35am

    USPTO

    When you spend more time trying to enforce copyright that actually creating new material you are really going nowhere.

    And that, folks, is exactly what's wrong with the current US patent system... give or take a word or two.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Corrupt Judges and Jurors, Dec 21st, 2007 @ 6:52pm

    Caching is a clear violation of copyright law

    It's well known that the US legal system is corrupt by big business interest.

    Copyright law is to protect the publisher.

    If this was the case all books, music, TV is fair use.

    Caching is using another person work without permission.

    If you delete content, your content is yours AND GOOGLE CANNOT USE OR STORE YOUR CONTENT WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION.

    If google or anybody wants it, they'll need your permission. It's called 'INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY'.....

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Mary, Jan 26th, 2009 @ 11:40am

    Google and MS Address Book

    Does anyone know if you can prevent google from accessing the data in your Microsoft/Outlook Address book. I have a large address book with adults/childrens' names, birthdates, etc. It is available only on my desktop. However, if I google someone's home address by entering their phone number, google searches my address book and displays all information relating to that phone number on the main google page. It's presented as a "Google cache". Does anyone know how to prevent this from happening? They shouldn't have access to any of my desktop info!

     

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