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January 20, 2006

Google's Cache is Fair Use of a Copyrighted Material

Nevada Court Rules Google Cache is Fair Use, a press release from the EFF, January 25, 2006.
A federal district court in Nevada has ruled that Google does not violate copyright law when it copies websites, stores the copies, and transmits them to Internet users as part of its Google Cache feature. The ruling clarifies the legal status of several common search engine practices and could influence future court cases, including the lawsuits brought by book publishers against the Google Library Project. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was not involved in the case but applauds last week's ruling for clarifying that fair use covers new digital uses of copyrighted materials. Blake Field, an author and attorney, brought the copyright infringement lawsuit against Google after the search engine automatically copied and cached a story he posted on his website. Google responded that its Google Cache feature, which allows Google users to link to an archival copy of websites indexed by Google, does not violate copyright law. The court agreed, holding that the Cache qualifies as a fair use of copyrighted material. "This ruling makes it clear that the Google Cache is legal and clears away copyright questions that have troubled the entire search engine industry," said Fred von Lohmann, EFF senior staff attorney. "The ruling should also help Google in defending against the lawsuit brought by book publishers over its Google Library Project, as well as assisting organizations like the Internet Archive that rely on caching."

Comment by Peter Suber ("Google's cache is fair use", OA News Blog): The Google cache returns full-text while the Google Library Project returns only short snippets. If anything, then, the Library Project has a stronger argument for fair use than the cache did.

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