Google Cache Ruled Legal Fair Use
A Nevada district court has ruled in favor of Google, declaring that the Google Cache is legal and in Fair Use. Google Cache is Google’s way of storing web content in its search engine memory, with stored versions of web sites which show up in Google web search results.
Google’s argument, which the court favored, was that Google Cache does not violate copyright law. Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that the judge’s ruling was based upon four decisions:
* Serving a webpage from the Google Cache does not constitute direct infringement, because it results from automated, non-volitional activity by Google servers (Field did not allege infringement on the basis of the making of the initial copy by the Googlebot);
* Field’s conduct (failure to set a “no archive” metatag; posting “allow all” robot.txt header) indicated that he impliedly licensed search engines to archive his web page;
* The Google Cache is a fair use; and
* The Google Cache qualifies for the DMCA’s 512(b) caching “safe harbor” for online service providers.
While this victory for Google is also a widespread approval of site caching by search engines and services such as the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, it’s even a sweeter ruling for the Google Book Search argument, which in part is that Google Book Search is a cached card catalog of printed works.
Google’s Eric Schmidt told Business 2.0 in a December interview:
“We’re building the world’s largest card catalog. People go to the card catalog, they see a snippet of the book–they don’t even see a full page–and then they have to go to the library or buy the book. Can you explain to me what’s wrong with that? We’ve obviously had a communication problem, because I don’t understand what’s wrong with it.”
Business 2.0 : The publishers claim that you are making a reproduction of the book in digital form for commercial purposes, in that you’re going to run advertisements next to the index you create and thereby make money off it.
Eric : This is what every search engine does when it crawls the Web. I’m not going to debate it because I’m not a lawyer. I will tell you that we have been through this very, very, very thoroughly, and fair use, which is a balance of the interests of publishers and readers, clearly permits the creation of a card catalog. It’s not a disputable point. Hopefully, the legal system will actually try to get to the facts of the case, but, again, we are not making copies to sell them.
Yes, expect Google lawyers to use this Cache Fair Use ruling as a defense of the Google Book Search project against those who think otherwise.