Search engines could be protected from liability for copyright infringement under proposed changes to UK copyright law, Press Gazette reports.
If implemented, amendments to the Digital Economy Bill would mean that publishers of websites, including news websites, would be presumed to give open access to search engines. This would make it impossible for a news website to take legal action against a search engine for indexing its content. This would not apply if the website used specific technology to block sites which aggregate content, using, for example, the Robots.txt protocol.
The amendment, proposed by Conservative peer Lord Lucas, states: "Every provider of a publicly accessible website shall be presumed to give a standing and non-exclusive license to providers of search engine services to make a copy of some or all of the content of that website, for the purpose only of providing said search engine services."
"A provider of search engine services who acts in accordance with this section shall not be liable for any breach of copyright."
Google and news publishers are in ongoing conflict about the aggregation of online news. Rupert Murdoch has accused Google and other search engines of stealing News Corp's content. In response, Google has said that its search and aggregation functions direct traffic to news publishers. Most recently, News International has blocked aggregator NewsNow from its content.
Source: Press Gazette