Court Is Cool With Google Cache

    January 26, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

A lawsuit against Google’s practice of caching web pages in its index was rejected by a Nevada district court in a decision that could impact Google’s claims of “fair use” in its Book Search project.

The US District Court for the District of Nevada tossed out author/attorney Blake Field’s copyright infringement lawsuit against Google, in a decision the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted could impact areas like Google’s Book Search (formerly called Library) and RSS republishing.

EFF’s Fred von Lohmann cited four key points from the court’s summary judgment:

•  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.

In Google’s many battles over its book scanning projects, the search advertising company has continually claimed its work was a fair use of copyrighted works. The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers both sued Google over its project, claiming copyright infringement.

The 25-page decision by the court on Field v Google looks like a potential boost to Google in both of those lawsuits against it. Another issue of contention, that of republishing RSS feeds, has caused consternation for some of the so-called “A-list” bloggers.

A few complained when the website Top10Sources began republishing their content. Whether or not that action was fair use or a copyright violation could see Field cited in a legal test in the future.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.