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November 08, 2006

Google's Dilemma - What is Fair Use?

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 11/08/2006 04:58:00 PM

When all is said and done, Google's ability to tread lightly in the realm of copyright law is at the heart of Google's business. Google Inc. (Nasdaq GOOG) has succeeded because it has been able to store large amounts of content in its databases without paying royalties. If Google had to pay royalties for all the data it has indexed, then it would be deep sixed. After all, Google's cost of goods sold is the data it has stored in its database - produced by content creators. Except today, Google doesn't really have any COGS because it doesn't pay for content. Australia is about to pass a law that would restrict the ability of companies to record, copy, or download content for their own use.

At present, Australian citizens technically break the law whenever they record their favourite television program or copy or download music for their own use.

The new laws will create an exemption for "fair use" and give effect to Australia's intellectual property obligations under the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

In a submission to a Senate inquiry into the laws, Google's senior counsel Andrew McLaughlin, asked the Government to create an exemption clause that would allow search engines to reproduce and store digital copies of books and other material as long as the reproduction was being used for research or in private.

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