Well, people have asked in the past how Google and Microsoft's search engines are really all that different from some of the file sharing search engines, and now we've finally got a lawsuit to at least explore some of that. It's not a major label, but a small indie blues label called Blues Destiny is suing Google and Microsoft along with RapidShare
. At issue, of course, is that people are uploading Blues Destiny music to RapidShare, and searches via Google and Microsoft can find them. As Eric Goldman notes in the writeup linked above, the label isn't particularly clear in what it's upset about, so he believes the real issue isn't even that Google and Microsoft link people to RapidShare, but that it finds other sites that then
link to RapidShare. That seems like many degrees removed from actually infringing -- and it's difficult to even see a clear claim for "inducing" infringement. Goldman also notes that the lawsuit is complicated by Blues Destiny's imprecision and vagueness in a series of (increasingly exasperated) takedown notices, which is coupled with Google not complying -- but potentially that is due to the failure of Blue Destiny to properly state what needed to be taken down. Either way, it's difficult to see how either Google or Microsoft is going to be found liable here, but the lawsuit is still worth watching, given the questions about where the fine line is drawn between just being a search engine and being a contributory infringer.