Clueless French Court Orders Search Engines To Disappear Entire Sites For Copyright Infringement
from the wave-that-magic-wand dept
Every so often it seems like a completely, technologically (and basic concept of properly applied liability) ignorant court does something like what a French court did last week. The High Court of Paris says that Google, Microsoft and Yahoo need to completely delist 16 full sites from their index — even to sites hosting perfectly non-infringing works. This, of course, was the dream of SOPA: that search engines would have to make sites completely disappear based on their say-so that the sites were “pirate” sites. But reality doesn’t work that way for a variety of reasons. Sites that have significant infringing uses at one time, also have significant non-infringing uses, and as the technology develops, they tend to increase the non-infringing uses. The VCR, for example, was mainly used to copy works in unauthorized ways when it was first launched — but part of the problem was the refusal of the industry itself to embrace the new technologies. Yet, now the court is killing even that possibility — so creators who want to make use of these platforms to promote themselves are completely out of luck, because the more powerful legacy industry lobbyists got a court to basically kill off those platforms.
As we noted last week, this SOPAfication of the world is increasingly the goal of the entertainment industries, and they’ve been having a lot of success in Europe, where sympathetic lawmakers and courts don’t seem to recognize how they’re propping up an industry that doesn’t want to adapt, while striking a blow against two important things: disruptive new innovations and the concept of secondary liability.
Search engines aren’t there to help people find what the legacy industries want them to find. They’re designed to help the searcher find what that searcher wants. Telling those search engines they can’t do that, and that they have to point to what some other industry wants, sets a very dangerous precedent. Letting legacy industries effectively program search engines to their liking pretty much guarantees limited innovation, both by stopping those innovative new platforms from gaining traction, while at the same time convincing the legacy players that they can continue to rest on their laurels.