Friday, January 15, 2010

The DEB amendments; 1 in a series..

You might wonder where I've been this time. Well, Pangloss is currently signed off work with a prolapsed disc. Yes it's Ok, it wsn't fun, but I'm getting better now, thanks. Anyway, one thing I plan to do for **fun** this week now I have time on my hands is sit down and have a look at the hundreds of DEB amendments. Yes I know; I'm that sad.

As a starter, it's important to remember not all the DEB is about disconnection of filesharers and neither are all the amendments.

One amendment Pangloss might draw attention to in particular has had quite a warm reception in parts of the press, odd perhaps given recent Google/Murdoch fracas (or not so odd?:). The Telegraph note

Lord Lucas, a Conservative peer, has tabled several amendments to the Digital Economy Bill

that would settle a number of copyright and electronic publishing arguments once and for all.

The one that’s been catching the headlines is immunity for search engines from prosecution under copyright laws as they go about their normal business of searching the web. Every provider of a publicly-accessible website shall be presumed to give a standing and non-exclusive licence to search engines to copy their content for the purposes of searching. A machine-readable file (robots.txt, for example) can be used to demonstrate that such a licence is not granted, should the owners of the website prefer not to be indexed.

Brilliant. Immediately all of the rows and back-and-forth between ill-advised newspapers and publishers is given a clear legal footing. It would be legal to be a search engine, and you can tell them to keep out if you wish. A few sentences saves millions of pounds of court costs and clears the headaches of everyone involved."

while the Guardian adds

" it would, for example, give Google legal immunity with which to index News Corp content, settling that thorny topic once and for all. But all would not be lost for publishers who want to retain control. Lucas's amendment does make provision…

The presumption (of having an automatic license) may be rebutted by explicit evidence that such a licence was not granted. Such explicit evidence shall be found only in the form of statements in a machine-readable file to be placed on the website and accessible to providers of search engine services.

In other words, Google would be free to copy everything - but a publisher blocking search spiders with a robots.txt file would be taken as withholding that right. An explicit "fair use" provision, which Google often cites against copyright-abuse claims, does not exist in UK law."

Interesting stuff?

NOTE: fun summary of this week's first debate at the Register


Unknown said...

Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.

Huťko said...

I see the proposal as a genuine way how to fix factual status quo in black letter law. Haven´t thought about this solution before.

Possible solutions for SE and copyright from my point of view.

Kind regards,