We'll Have To Wait For The Next Lawsuit To Find Out If A Web Crawler Can Enter Into A Contract
from the settled-away dept
Last month, news spread concerning a somewhat odd lawsuit involving the Internet Archive and the question as to whether or not a computer spider can enter into a contract just by indexing a website. The case involved a woman who ran a website and had put some text at the bottom claiming that just visiting the website was entering into a contract, and part of that contract included not copying or distributing the content. The Internet Archive’s spider did what it does and archived the page, leading to the threat of a lawsuit. The Internet Archive preemptively went to court to have a judge say they were in the clear, at which point the woman countersued. Of course, she didn’t just countersue for copyright infringement, but a range of charges including racketeering. Most of the discussion focused on whether or not a spider could enter into a contract, though an equally compelling question is whether or not you can automatically force someone to give up their fair use rights. Unfortunately, neither question is going to be decided in this case. WebProNews reports that the woman and the Internet Archive have settled the case out of court with both sides putting happy faces on the story. At the same time, however, WebProNews also reports that the woman in question is still going after some of her critics, including publishing all sorts of personal information about at least two of them, potentially violating some privacy laws (at least one of the critics she’s revealing info on is a minor). So perhaps there will still be a lawsuit stemming from this situation after all.