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Yahoo! Liable In Italy For Searchable Content 145

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-does-internet-work dept.
h3rr d0kt0r writes "A recent decision of an Italian court could spark considerable discussion over the liability of a search engines. The court actually ordered Yahoo! to remove any link to any site containing unlawful copies of a movie. Under EU Directives 2003/31, liability of search engines is not regulated (save for caching activities). In the case brought to court regarding the film About Elly, it was not the caching activities of Yahoo! that were questioned (or any content hosted on Yahoo!'s servers), but the mere fact that searching for the film made it possible to reach websites allowing the streaming or downloading of the movie (actually, illegal sites got a better ranking then the official one)."
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Yahoo! Liable In Italy For Searchable Content

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  • by SmilingBoy (686281) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:35AM (#35717390)
    From the article it seems that Yahoo was not ordered to pay anything; "only" to remove a link. This is important as this means that there is no general threat of damage payments for linking due to this court order.
    • by yuhong (1378501) <yuhongbao_386@ho ... minus physicist> on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:37AM (#35717400) Homepage

      Yea, DMCA takedown notices in the US do the same thing.

      • DMCA can force you to remove a link?!
        • by AK Marc (707885)
          If you are going to be a pedant, then DMCA can't force you to do anything. But the Italian ruling says that you must remove illegal content, but you aren't liable for that illegal content if you deal with the issue in a timely manner, which is exactly the same as the DMCA. There may be a difference in the definition of "illegal content" but that's immaterial to the legal parallels.
        • DCMA sect. 512 protects the linker (under safe harbor), until they're aware the link is infringing. At that point the linker has to remove or disable [chillingeffects.org] access to the linked material.
    • No, Even Worse (Score:4, Interesting)

      by skywire (469351) * on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @09:41AM (#35719700)

      The judge did not order Yahoo to "remove a link". The judge ordered, whether with or without understanding of the outrageous meaning and far-reaching consequences of his or her action, that Yahoo somehow modify their search engine such that it will simply not do what a search engine properly does. And don't imagine for a moment that the judge's order does not come with the threat of punitive action such as monetary sanction, confiscation of property, or arrest.

      • by UBfusion (1303959)

        What exactly is the "outrageous meaning and far-reaching consequences" that you imply? Yahoo (and I bet Google and Bing are next sooner or later) will just have to not display search results that include any film's title together with additional keywords such as dvdrip, brrip, xvid, aac, mkv, hdtv, x264, etc. I'm suspecting this does not require more than a few lines of code and while not sufficient to block 100% of infringing results, it will be quite a proof of good intention and willingness to comply wit

        • Well I had this all typed out with links and more witty but you are suggesting that Yahoo should block: dvdrip Family Video brrip Personal xvid legal dvdrip is it legal?
    • by hoggoth (414195) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @10:33AM (#35720346) Journal

      Easy response: remove all links to any pages that mention the film "About Elly" at all. Claim technical difficulties. Movie dies on the vine. Movie industry thinks twice before asking for unenforceable shit again.

  • re:yahoo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JohnVanVliet (945577) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:37AM (#35717396) Homepage

    I am beginning to think that Yahoo and Google
    need to take a week off .
    go on holiday for 7 days and watch a the world comes to a stop

    then see what the court has to say .

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Bing! will come to save the day

    • by mykos (1627575) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:44AM (#35717412)
      "Dear Customer of Yahoo/Google/Bing,
      Recently, it has come to our attention that a group of copyright holders with a lot of sway in your legal system have managed to convince your government to force us to hand-pick every link we index. Unfortunately, this is not a viable solution. As such, we are no longer providing search services to your country. Good luck!

      Hope to hear from you again soon if your government changes its mind!
      • by Calydor (739835)

        Mod parent up.

        If the big players in the search business could agree to this instead of going, "Woot, the others have backed out, this market is ours!" they could keep themselves safe.

        • by martin-boundary (547041) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @03:39AM (#35717600)
          Bzzt, wrong. That strategy didn't work in China, and there's no reason it would work in any country with enough resources to spend on homegrown IT.
          • by SomePgmr (2021234)
            I don't live in Italy, but I think the people there have a little more say in what their government does on their behalf.
            • by marcello_dl (667940) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @04:23AM (#35717772) Homepage Journal

              Everything gets done by government decree and some tens of thousand laws in excess make justice inapplicable, that's been true for decades here.

              That does not mean the current government is just like the old ones. I don't buy the "politicians are stupid/insane" theory but when I read newspapers, at first I think: "Franz Kafka on acid".

            • Please, please, please, let parent not be from USA because that would be really ironic.

              • by SomePgmr (2021234)
                I am, why is that ironic? If you're suggesting that the US doesn't actually have a representative government anymore, I understand your frustration but have to disagree. Though either way I don't think our governance situation worse than China's with respect to accountability to the people.

                But that's off topic. The question is whether or not Italy is worse than China with respect to government being accountable to its people. I don't think that's the case. But certainly call me out if I'm wrong on
                • Answering your post. I discover I misread your statement.

                  I read it as a generic "People have a little more say in what their goverment does on their behalf (than the goverment itself)". Not as a particular case comparing both China and Italy.

                  You're right about Italy being more accountable than China.

                  That said, I still don't think the suggested messages (and denials to provide the service) would mobilize enough people and create sufficient pressure for a goverment to fear any kind of loss of political powe

          • by Xest (935314)

            Of course it didn't work in China because China has Baidu which owns the vast majority of the search market, and with Baidu basically being a government sponsored search engine. It's an independent company but you don't run a business that size in China without doing what the authorities want. Look at Rio Tinto, a massive multinational, but because they didn't play China's game some of their workers were sent to jail, that's really the choice of the matter in China- you do it the government's way, or face a

            • by xnpu (963139) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @04:07AM (#35717712)

              Please note that Baidu is mostly owned and operated by Goldman Sachs, not by the Chinese government. Also the majority of it's board members are US citizens.

              There is a government sponsored search engine, but the fact that you don't even know it's name says enough.

              • by Xest (935314)

                I don't think you really got my point.

                It doesn't matter who owns it, or who is on the board, unless they're willing to do business the way China wants them to do business then they cannot do business in China, hence why it is effectively state controlled, and, when the staff on the ground are in China itself, and hence open to pressure from the Chinese authorities, what the board thinks they are doing, and what they are actually doing may well be two very different things. Google faced the same problem with

              • by UBfusion (1303959)

                Do you imply that an US-owned business located in China should abide by the US laws and not the China ones?

            • Fortunately China is a fringe market in this case, few other markets have a home grown search engine that holds the majority of the market and is effectively government controlled,

              The Russian search engine Yandex is pretty good as well, that's another large part of the world covered.

              pointing it out as a reason it wouldn't work anywhere else in the world is stupid.

              You misunderstand. Those examples merely show that local search engines can dominate in a local market even when the Googles and Yahoo

              • The difference is that in China most of what people are searching for is from China, Baidu rely on this for market share and tailor their searches accordingly... this will not be true in many other counties

                If what you are searching for is Movies or Music related then unless it's Bollywood or Hong Kong Cinema then the main sites are likley to be US based ?

                There will always be some local content, but often a lot of what you are searching for is USA based ...

              • by Xest (935314)

                Russia- large geographically perhaps, it's not a particularly populous country relative to the landmass perhaps and isn't exactly a major player in terms of percent of population with internet access. It's a relatively small player for the most part, roughly 1/10th the population of China and 1/8th that of India, roughly half that of even Indonesia, and less than Brazil, Pakistan, and Nigeria even.

                How long do you think a search engine takes to get up and running and in people's searching habits?

                Do you reall

                • How long do you think a search engine takes to get up and running and in people's searching habits?

                  This is a good question worth expanding on.

                  If we look to the filesharing scene, there's an unambiguous answer: if/when a file/music/torrent search engine falls off the face of the earth, which happens quite regularly, people move on to another rather quickly. People are remarkably resilient that way. They basically adapt and use what's available.

                  If you're asking how long it takes to build an engine f

                  • by Xest (935314)

                    "If we look to the filesharing scene, there's an unambiguous answer: if/when a file/music/torrent search engine falls off the face of the earth, which happens quite regularly, people move on to another rather quickly. People are remarkably resilient that way. They basically adapt and use what's available."

                    But it's completely different, in the file sharing scene such sites are basically available as FOSS downloads in their most advanced formats, in contrast FOSS search engine offerings are a joke compared to

          • by clickety6 (141178)
            Ha! The UK government has a less-than-impressive record with IT. They've spent billions on IT projects that have collapsed without any usable results. I don't see them having much luck getting something like google up and running. I expect other countries have similar poor records when it comes to costly IT failures.
            • Ha! The UK government has a less-than-impressive record with IT. They've spent billions on IT projects that have collapsed without any usable results

              Fund the project with Nimrod Subhunter savings?

            • Government not needed - Baidu is not run by the Chinese government (it just plays by it's rules)

              Just checked and there are 177+ UK based search engines .... currently kept down by Google.co.uk being better ...

            • by CastrTroy (595695)
              Nothing beats the Canadian Firearms Registry [wikipedia.org]. Over a billion dollars spent on a database that maps Firearms to their owners.
          • by xded (1046894)

            I hope we won't need to get to that point to see "resources spent on homegrown IT" in Italy.

            But I'm not too optimistic.

          • However, there aren't many such countries. China is one, India probably another. Italy can't play this game.

          • by arkenian (1560563)
            Yes but a.) China already had another search engine that had a majority share; b.) china is a big market. c.) the chinese government provides a massive infrastructure for filtering out links they don't like. I think the italian taxpayer is unlikely to want to spend that kind of money to a.) roll their own search and b.) provide a massive search filter. A.) they might get a private company to do without taxpayer dollars, b.) is much less likely.
        • by AK Marc (707885)
          I'd just scrub any links that contain content or link to the copyright owners for all movies by any studio that complains. If they want their stuff cleaned off the Internet, then their wish should be granted.
          • LOL. That's probably the best situation. If the owners of "The Hurt Locker" (an example) complained just remove all references to the movie from the search engine. That way the search engine company doesn't have to worry about which references might be illegal(a source of future lawsuits). It also has the side benefit of making the originator of the lawsuit reconsider their approach.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              LOL. That's probably the best situation. If the owners of "The Hurt Locker" (an example) complained just remove all references to the movie from the search engine. That way the search engine company doesn't have to worry about which references might be illegal(a source of future lawsuits). It also has the side benefit of making the originator of the lawsuit reconsider their approach.

              That's effing brilliant. And Google owns Youtube. So long to any of that free publicity involving people looking up movie trailers to learn about a film their friends mentioned.

      • I'm sorry but users need to search RIGHT now so they won't go out and protest but try and find a quick alternative to your service. Even if it's not as good as the previous tool.

    • by Tim C (15259)

      If the court says anything it is likely to be along the lines of not being held to ransom by corporate pressure.

      If you want a law changed, you have to convince the lawmakers - i.e. the politicians.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is strange, when Berlusconi arrives incognito in Milan and asks a taxi driver to bring him to the whorehouse with the youngest employees, is the taxidriver then responsible for what happens next?

  • First it's a terrible search engine, then it's out of touch, now this.

    Though at least from it's name, it's upbeat.

  • Yahoo! should ban any italian IP, saying that the cost of doing business in Italy is too great.
    the public outcry will overturn the decision immediately.

    • by lul_wat (1623489)
      "Implying" people actually use Yahoo! search
    • by pixline (2028580)
      You should know about italian government first, then you'd realize that - in fact - they won't give a buck for it. Let alone people, maybe they'll cry for a while but nothing more. Italian government is terrible, but average italian web-consciousness is somewhat worse. (And I'm italian, living in italy: figure out the pleasure..)
    • Oh, yeah. All ten of the Italian Yahoo users will be protesting in the streets, undertipping and reducing their political contributions. Big impact. HUGE.
  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:55AM (#35717456)

    Just pull up every single title for every single movie, tv-show etc. on IMDB and have your search engine return

    "We're terribly sorry, but since you've searched for the title of a movie, and we can't know if a link is legal or not, we have chosen not to be sued by the creators of $title and won't show any results.
    If you wish to know more about why you can't find any information about movies online, please call PFA at $phone number for further information.
    "

    And since your search engine isn't a paid service, it'd be hard to argue in court that it should return results that the copyright holders decide.

    Let's see how the fuckers manage to get along and drum up publicity, if their crap can't be found online at all.

    • Mod Parent +10 "Makes to Much Sense"
    • by TheSpoom (715771)

      They'd probably sue them for interfering with customers' ability to find legal copies of their movie.

      • by bye (87770)

        They'd probably sue them for interfering with customers' ability to find legal copies of their movie.

        Search engines could point to several past legal battles questioning the legal ownership of various high-profile movies. Every single big studio had such episodes in the past. If search engines are supposed to unindex sources of movies with questionable legality then they have to unindex all big movie studios as well, not just (alleged) pirate sites.

        If a movie studio can present a (final) court ruling against a pirate site then search engines have proper legal basis to unindex that site.

      • Well, you can sue anyone for anything.

        But since the movie studio or distributor would be trying to force someone else to do something for them for free, something that they aren't paying for, can't pay for an have no absolute right to, I would hope any sane judge would throw that suit out of a 10th floor window. If the lawyer happens to be IN the suit at the time, so much the better.

        After all - if they can force a company to give them free advertising, what's to stop them from forcing YOU to carry around a

  • If this goes through, and even worse goes international, what a mess this will cause. Staff needing to peruse all new links? Massive revamping of crawler routines? Gah.

    • Nah; as someone else noted in these here comments, it's probably going to be more like an Italian DMCA. Nothing to worry about—other than the complete kookoo bizarreness that is the Italian media.

      Also, Benito Mussolini. What's the deal with that guy? Man. What a guy.
  • I agree with the fact that, in these cases, search engines could just stop providing some service in that specific Country. In countries with a democracy, such as Italy (well, ok, more or less...), hopefully the people will uprise and have their representatives to something about it.

    Still, the problem is more general than that, and I would like to raise the point just for the sake of discussion. Consider pedo-pornography, which is a crime in Italy as it is in many other countries as far as I know. In that c

    • by ae1294 (1547521)

      No I don't expect $search_provider to censor their database even if we are talking child porn. It's not a crime to interlink the web dumbass...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by masterpiga (1590499)

        I agree on that - and if you had read my post until the end maybe you would have understood it too.

        But still, if according to a law facilitating illegal behaviors is unlawful (as is the case in Italy, but I guess many other countries have similar articles in their body of laws), then they are breaking the law. And the idea that is okay to break the law as far as I don't mind it, seems a little bit idiotic to me, no less than having a judge deciding what a search engine can or can't index.

        So, unless we claim

        • by ae1294 (1547521)

          Any time I hear child porn used in any argument I shut down and automatically disagree. You see I'm trying to balance out the populace who automatically agree.

          Plus I'm relatively sure everyone already has laws making $you responsible for what you do. Hopefully it will never come to it that what you search for becomes illegal as well. Typing in "child porn" or "movies" into a search engine shouldn't get you flagged at the FBI.

    • by mikechant (729173)

      Your comment is based on the misconception that unauthorized downloading of copyright material *is* a crime. In most cases and most jurisdictions, it is a civil wrong, not a crime, and law enforcement has no role in investigating or prosecuting civil matters (the concept of prosecution does not even exist for civil matters).

      e.g. this
      But from the point of view of law enforcement, publishing a link to a movie for illegal download is no different than pointing users to readily available pedo-pornographic mater

      • I will try to rephrase my thoughts, which I seem not to be able to explain.

        I do not think that linking to _anything_ is a crime, but is in undeniable that it can make it easy for people who want it to commit a crime. I don't know what's the correct English wording for it, but I think that it is not wrong to say that in such cases they can be considered "accessory to a crime". I also don't like the idea that governments or judges can decide what a search engine can link or not.

        For these reasons, I think that

        • by JimFive (1064958)

          I do not think that linking to _anything_ is a crime, but is in undeniable that it can make it easy for people who want it to commit a crime. I don't know what's the correct English wording for it, but I think that it is not wrong to say that in such cases they can be considered "accessory to a crime".

          I don't think that the printer of the city map can be held responsible for helping the bank robber find the bank, nor can the nice person at the tourist office that gave directions. Thus, I don't agree that a search engine can be held responsible for helping an internet user find a website. Therefore I don't agree that it is "reasonable for search engines to be protected by explicit laws" because creating that specific law creates an environment where a large number of other acts are now questionable. On

          • Fine, in a world of reasonable people we could go without laws at all, and I am generally against the proliferation of little and particular laws - one of the biggest problems of my Country, if you ask me. Fact is that what we think is not too important, given that it looks like a judge has just deliberated against our idea.

      • As for the distinction between crime and "civil wrong", I just used the wrong word because I am not a native speaker. Let's call them "unlawful acts", if you prefer.

    • No, the problem with this situation is that search providers do not have an easy way to tell if a site is legitimate or not. By your logic (and that of the court) selling VCRs (and other similar devices) should be illegal because they "facilitate" making illegal copies of movies and tv shows. There are many other examples of things that we take for granted that can be used in a crime that this ruling could be applied to.
      I would agree that the search engine should have, at most, very limited liability for
  • by xenobyte (446878) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @03:24AM (#35717548)

    Search engines are now required to remove links to any and all illegal items, ideas or concepts. No bomb recipes. No lock picking manuals. No gay-support (homosexuality is illegal in dozens of countries), no free speech (outlawed in many countries)... Oh wait, it's only items owned by Big Corporations (tm) that gets this treatment. All other illegalities are still welcome on the search engines... Go figure.

    • by xnpu (963139)

      This is the thing many people, especially Americans, refuse to see. The only reason their government is relatively relaxed on speech etc, is because the real legislators and enforcers are corporations. They are the true overlords and even the Chinese government doesn't come near their level of oppression of the general populous.

  • Spellcheck (Score:1, Informative)

    by pasv (755179)
    If you can read English then please replace then with than in the last sentence. Ok thanks bye
  • So, how would this work? If I own the copyright to a movie and I know that site X is distributing an illegal copy, then I go tell yahoo to remove the link? Sounds reasonable, except for the implication that since they can't legally fight the site itself, they go to the Search engine instead, which means that the site owner never gets a chance to defend himself.

    Man, it sucks to be an ISP or Search Engine these days.
    • by UBfusion (1303959)

      Why not tell them to remove the link? Hotfile, for example, receives tons of such requests and removes links accordingly.

  • I have been waiting for a bit "normal" search site to get sued (okej, they haven't here but almost the same) so that we can see how absurd that torrent search sites get sued.

    Yes, there are a bit that differ from Isohunt/Piratebay and Google/Yahoo/Bing but not much. In Google I can search for torrent files and find the same pirated content.
    But the main difference is that the big search sites have money for good lawyers while torrent sites don't.

    Oh, and Google actually host "pirated" media (books, pictures an

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you don't want the search engines indexing your life, just link to something infringing!!!

  • This from the country where the president (Prime Minister to be exact) engages in sex with underage prostitute(s).
    No surprise.

  • "A recent decision of an Italian court could spark considerable discussion over the viability of search engines."

    There, fixed that for you.

  • actually, illegal sites got a better ranking then the official one

    It is my opinion that then/than are probably two of the most misused words in the English language. Then, an adverb meaning at a time. Back then I used to not care. Than, a conjunction used as after comparative adjectives and adverbs, to introduce the second member of an unequal comparison or as a preposition to show relation to or comparison with (usually followed by a pronoun).

    The correct statement would there be: ...actually, illegal sites got a better ranking than the official one...

    Oh, wait. This

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