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19 Mar 2006

Google Wins an Easy One Copyright Law

Last week a court in Philadelphia dismissed a 2004 case filed by Gordon Roy Parker. In the decision the judge threw out the entire case alleging copyright infringement, defamation, invasion of privacy, and a grab bag of other complaints.

Parker, who filed his case pro se, is the author of a variety of e-books primarily about seducing women. As best the court could figure out his long rambling complaint (which I have not read because it doesn't seem to be available online), he posted a piece of one of his books to Usenet, and is now mad at Google for archiving a copy of it, just like they keep copies of millions of other Usenet articles. He was also alleging invasion of privacy because if you Google his name, you get an "unauthorized biography", they link to a site critical of him that he claimed diluted his trademark, and some other rants that the court couldn't make sense of and threw up its hands.

Relying on the recent Field decision among many others, the court affirmed that Google's document caches are fundamentally legal, and then discarded the rest basically for being bogus, e.g., the critical site couldn't cause commercial confusion because it doesn't sell anything.

This was an easy decision for the judge since the plaintiff, who apparently has a history of filing complaints like these, had such a weak case, but it does help to build up case law for the important point that caches are an integral part of the way the web and search engines work, and they are squarely within the fair use exception in copyright law.

  posted at: 14:06 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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