Google and other search engines could be immune from copyright lawsuits in the UK in the near future.
That’s if a proposed amendment to the Digital Economy Bill goes through. As we discussed yesterday, the anti-piracy parts of this bill are highly controversial. Copyright is a thorny issue and Paid Content has been picking through some of the proposed amendments to the bill ahead of it being presented to Parliament to be made law.
Probably the most interesting proposal, coming from Lord Lucas who proposes that search engine should be liable for any copyright claims from third parties. This is important as it means search engines can continue to provide snippets of information from websites without fear of legal repercussions.
Bad news for Murdoch?
As Paid Content notes, this could mean that Rupert Murdoch’s fight against Google News may come to nothing, in the UK at least. This comes only days after Murdoch’s Times Online started blocking aggregator NewsNow from indexing its stories.
That said, one of the main themes of the Digital Economy Bill is protecting existing industries. Would the Bill be passed in a way that threatened Rupert Murdoch, a powerful force in UK politics, or would politicians have the guts to tell him to get used to the way the new digital world works? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Another proposed change to the Bill suggests charging filesharers who have their internet connection removed before they can have it reinstated.
Curbing the Bill
Other proposals dug up by Paid Content aim to curb some of the harsher parts of the Bill. One suggestion is to limit the time ISPs can ‘blacklist’ offenders for to one year, while another aims to stop the ability for piracy fine levels to be changed arbitrarily on the whim of First Secretary of State Peter Mandelson.
These proposed changes are being discussed today in the Lords Committee Stage of its progress to being made law. We’ll let you know if any of them make it. One thing’s for sure, if the Bill makes it through to the statute books in its current state there will be a lot of very annoyed internet users in the UK.
Here’s the path the bill has to take, courtesy of www.parliament.uk.