Google Wins Copyright Case
The ruling stems from a May 2004 lawsuit filed by Blake A. Field, a Nevada author and attorney. Field charged that Google infringed his copyright by displaying cache files of pages on his Web site, blakeswritings.com, to searchers.
Federal district court judge Robert C. Jones found in Google's favor earlier this month, ruling that the cache files were a "fair use" of the material.
While the case didn't get much attention before the ruling, this week the civil rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation hailed the decision as a sweeping victory for Google. In a statement posted on the Foundation's Web site, attorney Fred von Lohmann said the decision "clears away copyright questions that have troubled the entire search engine industry." He also said the ruling potentially helps Google defend its library project from a lawsuit brought by book publishers.
The Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild each filed lawsuits against Google, challenging the search company's plans to scan books from public libraries and make the text searchable.
But it's possible that ruling won't be quite as broad as the Electronic Frontier Foundation predicted. In his ruling, Jones emphasized some unusual facts of the case--including that Field never attempted to charge users for his content. Jones also found that Field implicitly granted Google a license to cache his Web site because he had not put a "no-archive" meta-tag on his site.
Regardless, one result of the ruling is that it's already put Google's cache function on more people's radar screens.
"Until now, the cache has just been a nifty little bonus in using Google when a page won't load," said search industry observer David Berkowitz, director of marketing for Viewpoint Corporation. "Down the road, cache presumably could play a much bigger role than it does now."