Friday, January 27, 2006

Google Cache "Fair Use" Decision

Discussed in this post: Google, caching, and the concept of fair use online.

Maybe the most significant decision this week came down in favor of Google, where the court determined that the caching of documents is fair use. This is certainly one of those decision that is important as a representation of the core principles of a Web business model built around content.

Google has to be allowed to grab content that is available on the Web: the core idea is well described in one of the WMW forums:
I think a more appropriate analogy is of being in a public space and there being a reasonable assumption that you don't have privacy. When inside your home you have a reasonable assumption of privacy.

Likewise, you have recourse to prevent caching and a reasonable expectation of protecting your content from caching when you use a no-cache tag. And if you don't use a no-cache then you aren't using the tools available to prevent a cache, similar to changing your pants on your front lawn
Publishers certainly like control over content, but the nature of the Web is that the content now becomes available. Google is not committing content theft here (as asserted by another poster in the forum). There is the odd fact that they have made a copy of the work, but it is not the same thing as photocopying a shortstory and re-selling it. The making of a copy is the hinge of the theft argument, but the nature of the medium is what makes the act unique.
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