Search engines such as Google could well find themselves exempt from UK law of any liability for copyright infringement if a new proposed amendment to the Digital Economy Bill is passed.

The latest proposed amendment (292) to the recently announced Digital Economy Bill has been put forward by Conservative Lord Lucas, who suggests:

"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..."

Copyright schmopyright

Lucas' proposed amendment, is simply called "Protection of search engines from liability for copyright infringement", and would fundamentally change the existing law set by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

The potential ramifications of such a move are not really hard for most regular users of Google News to understand.

It would give Google complete legal immunity to index news providers content (such as that from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, for example).

However, while Google would be free to copy whatever it liked, a publisher would still be able to block search engine spiders with a robots.txt file, as News International has recently started doing with some news aggregators.

Lord Lucas' proposed amendment is one of 299 proposed amendments being heard in the Lords next Tuesday.

Via Paid Content