Italian Court Says Yahoo Is Liable For People Finding Infringing Movie Via Its Search
from the secondary-liability dept
Slashdot points us to the details of a recent ruling in Italy that found Yahoo contributory liable for its search pointing people to an unauthorized download of a film. The details of the case seem a bit more nuanced than the short summary. Google and Microsoft were also sued… but reasonably dismissed from the case, since their Italian divisions had nothing to do with their search engines. Yahoo, however, apparently does do some search work in Italy.
As for the reasoning behind the decision, it seems to focus on a stretch of an interpretation of the EU’s E-Commerce Directive, which indicates that a “caching provider” has to block links to content once notified that it’s infringing. While the coverage is a bit unclear, it sounds like this is more difficult than a US-style DMCA notice-and-takedown regime, in that it appears that upon notice that some content is infringing, Yahoo isn’t supposed to just take down that particular link, but all links that can reach that content. In fact, the explanation notes that Yahoo can’t even link to another (legal) website that contains links itself to infringing works. Think about that for a second. It goes beyond secondary liability to something entirely different. I’d call it “head in the sand” liability, where someone seems to hope that by telling search engines they can’t link to sites that might link to infringing works, it will somehow make those works hard to find. The reality, of course, is that it’s just going to frustrate consumers, because search engines now have incentive to take down all sorts of perfectly legitimate search results to avoid liability. Given this and the ruling that found Google execs criminally liable, one wonders why any search engine operates in Italy at all these days…