Australian Court Ruling Could Impact Search

The Australian Federal Court ruled the other day that a web site providing links to available illegal video downloads is culpible as well as the ISP that hosted the site.

Electronic Frontiers Australia, a civil-liberties group, said the ruling could have impact on search engines such as Google.

The Associated Press report stated:

The full bench of the Federal Court, the country's second-highest court, has upheld a lower court ruling that Stephen Cooper, the operator of the Web site in question, as well as Comcen, the Internet service provider that hosted it, were guilty under Australian copyright law.

They were accused of authorizing copyright infringement because they provided a search engine whose results linked to songs available for illegal download, even though the Web site did not store the music files directly.

Cooper had argued that his Web site performed a function comparable to search engines such as Google Inc., which is based in Mountain View, Calif.

EFA chairman Dale Clapperton said Australia holds internet users to a higher standard. The legal interpretation of liability is untested for search engines like Google.

About the author

Frank Watson has been involved with the Web since it started. For the past five years, he headed SEM for FXCM -- at one time one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He has worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion.

He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he is not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, and developing some interesting online community sites.

He was one of the first 100 AdWords Professionals, a Yahoo and Overture Ambassador, and a member or mod of many of the industry forums. He is also on the Click Quality Council and has worked hard to diminish click fraud.