After, Google was found liable for defamation of a person from their Google Instant auto suggest feature- which is a reflection of what people are searching for, but as the case stated, Google had already filtered the autocomplete for copyright terms – so the court determined they could filter these too. It’s now the turn of Yahoo!
A recent ruling in Italy found Yahoo! contributory liable for its search pointing people to an unauthorized download of a film. Yahoo! was found guilty of distributing a movie without authorization by linking to the site that was doing the distribution.
“As for the reasoning behind the decision, it seems to focus on a stretch of an interpretation of the EU’s E-Commerce Directive, which indicates that a “caching provider” has to block links to content once notified that it’s infringing. While the coverage is a bit unclear, it sounds like this is more difficult than a US-style DMCA notice-and-takedown regime, in that it appears that upon notice that some content is infringing, Yahoo isn’t supposed to just take down that particular link, but all links that can reach that content. In fact, the explanation notes that Yahoo can’t even link to another (legal) website that contains links itself to infringing works. Think about that for a second. It goes beyond secondary liability to something entirely different. I’d call it “head in the sand” liability, where someone seems to hope that by telling search engines they can’t link to sites that might link to infringing works, it will somehow make those works hard to find. The reality, of course, is that it’s just going to frustrate consumers, because search engines now have incentive to take down all sorts of perfectly legitimate search results to avoid liability. Given this and the ruling that found Google execs criminally liable, one wonders why any search engine operates in Italy at all these days…”