Search engines should be exempt from copyright infringment, proposes peer

Google could be protected against copyright infringement claims from third parties, including newspaper publishers such as News International, in a proposed amendment to the Digital Economy Bill.


Conservative peer Lord Lucas has tabled an amendment to the bill which would allow search engines to reproduce website content within results, as long as they direct to the source material.

If passed unchanged it would protect search engines against copyright infringement charges, amending the existing Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Lord Lucas’ recommendation states, “Every provider of a publicly accessible website shall be presumed to give a standing and non-exclusive licence 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,” it continues.

It would be a major blow to publishers criticial of search engines, and particularly Google, which aggregate content free within their results page.

Key publishing figures including Trinity Mirror’s Sly Bailey and New International’s Rupert Murdoch have stated the practice devalues online news content and is harming the publishing industry.

This story first appeared on

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