AFP reports that Google has warned Australia that if they pass certain a new copyright law that it will set the country back to “the pre-Internet era.” Google’s senior counsel, Andrew McLaughlin, told the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, “If such advanced permission was required [to index pages], the internet would promptly grind to a halt.” I believe the issue here is that Australia wants Google to get copyright owners to opt in to having their content indexed, archived and cached, as opposed to opting out via a robots.txt file. Australia is not alone here; Belgium newspapers are fighting Google over similar copyright issues. This all just amazes me, seriously.
Postscript From Danny: See also my Google’s Belgium Fight: Show Me The Money, Not The Opt-Out, Say Publishers piece that goes into great depth about how this is effectively already the law in Belgium, due to a court ruling there. The appeal on that case will happen later this month, but the threat alone also already caused Micrsoft to back out of some indexing.