Australian Court Rules Against Linking; Search Engines Don’t Need To Panic

Australian court rules against MP3 link site from News.com covers how an Australian court has decided that linking to some content can be illegal, in the right circumstances. In the right circumstances! That part is important. It’s easy to read the headline and come away thinking that search engines (or anyone, potentially) are going to find life much harder in Australia if they are deemed to be illegally linking to content such as music or articles posted online without a content owners permission. However, I think the case looks pretty specific to this particular MP3 search site, which the court felt was established almost to pretend it couldn’t control linking to material posted without permission.

From the News.com story:

"A principal purpose of the Web site was to enable infringing copies of the downloaded sound recordings to be made," Judge Susan Kenny wrote in her opinion. "The fact that the Web site also carried a warning that some downloading could be illegal did not lessen the force of the invitation."

As for search engines, they seem to get a pass given they were not created specifically to encourage what the court felt was illegal music downloads:

Cooper, a resident of the state of Queensland, had argued that he had no power to prevent illegal copying because users could "automatically" add links to the site without his control. He likened his site to Google’s search engine as a mechanism for pointing users to other sites–an analogy that one judge deemed "unhelpful," in part because Google was not designed exclusively to facilitate music downloads. The opinion also noted that even the search giant is not always free to link to everything it wishes.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Legal: Crawling & Indexing

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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