Search engine Disputes
The evolution of the internet, particularly the "web" is creating new legal issues. One of these issues relates to the rights of creators (copyrights) and the technology of search engines.
In the spring of 1995, Louis Monier was having a lunch conversation with two other Digital employees. The idea of creating a very large search engine came up during that lunch. Monier then led the team that built AltaVista which debuted in December of 1995. With over 20 million documents indexed at its debut, it was over ten times larger than any other search engine on the web at that time.
The AltaVista debut forever changed the search engine landscape.
The engines index websites looking at the content, at the title, the description and at MeTA tags to provide a way to find something without even knowing it is there.
The original engines only looked at text. Now, a new breed of engines has emerged that looks, not only at text, but also at the other files, particularly graphics and sound.
These new engines are creating disputes: disputes between the engines and the creators.
Consider a graphics search engine like Arriba Vista or AltaVista. Let's say you are looking for a graphic of a house. You type "house" in the search engine and brings back information on graphic images of "house" from all over the net.
The problem for creators are many:
The search engines are responding to these criticisms:
Still, the debate is just beginning.
Leslie A. Kelly, a photographer, has been in the news with his public dispute with AltaVista over the indexing of his photographs from his websites. And, recently, he has filed suit against Arriba Vista for the same.
In the links below, I provide some of the history of this dispute, information on the law and other resources you may find useful.
Articles in the Media
7am News (29.Oct.1998) , "Photographer Claims AltaVista Breaches His Copyright & Trademark": An article about Leslie A. Kelly's dispute with AltaVista. ««»»
Jesse Berst's Anchor Desk (28.Apr.1997) , "Has Your Website Been Stolen?": A news article about wholesale copying of an entire site! The article is also of value for the Talkback feature with many reader comments about copyright, image theft and the related issues. ««»»
Newsbytes (27.Oct.1998) , "Compaq Accused Of Copyright Infringement": An article about Leslie A. Kelly's dispute with AltaVista, owned by Compaq. Also includes some of the history of how Compaq came to own AltaVista. ««»»
Newsbytes (06.Nov.1998) , "AltaVista Disclaimer Not enough For Copyright – Kelly": After AltaVista modifies some of its disclaimers and information, Leslie A. Kelly is not satisfied. ««»»
Photo District News (PDN) Online (01.Jun.1999) , "Internet Search engines Face Infringement Claims": The article discusses the current dispute between Leslie A. Kelly and others. It also quotes Seth Resnick (mentioned elsewhere on this page) that technology, rather than law, may solve the problem. [This is a local site mirror of an article no longer available.] ««»»
Search engine Report (06.Jun.1997) , "Ticketmaster, Microsoft and Search engines": This article explores some of the legal and practical issues between Microsoft and Ticketmaster, and the relationship of websites to search engines. ««»»
Search engine Report (09.Jan.1998) , "News Robot Leads To Linking, Indexing Dispute": An article about a dispute over the use of the robots.txt file at the Sunday Times and the News Index that ignores the file. ««»»
Search engine Watch (03.Mar.1999) , "Is The Lycos MP3 Index Legal?": You think visual artists have a problem, consider the turmoil of the musical artists. The Lycos MP3 Index may be pointing to illegal copies of their work! ««»»
Brad Mangin Photography (07.Mar.1999) , "Sports Shooter #6": Brad Mangin is a prominent sports photographer. This article on Brad's site talks about a lot of things, including the Arriba Vista site. His discussion of Arriba Vista is actually a reprint of some of Seth Resnick's comments posted on one of the photo lists. If you don't want to read the whole article, "find" the word "Arriba" to go directly to the related section entitled "New Image Search engine Steals Copyright?" ««»»
Focus Online Copyright Watchdog: This website is a subsidiary of the Focus Online Photography Magazine. It tracks online copyright issues and includes a section on the search engine dispute and Leslie A. Kelly. ««»»
Leslie A. Kelly
Leslie A. Kelly Press Release Alleging Copyright Infringement by Arriba Soft Corporation and the Arriba Vista Search engine, 01.Feb.1999: This page on my website contains the text of Leslie A. Kelly's press release about his dispute with Arriba Vista. ««»»
Leslie A. Kelly Press Release Regarding Suit Against Arriba Soft Corporation and the Arriba Vista Search engine, 06.Apr.1999: This page on my website contains the text of Leslie A. Kelly's press release about his lawsuit. ««»»
Protecting Your Site
AltaVista Photo Finder, and How to Keep Your Images Unfound: If you don't want AltaVista to index your images, this page provides some of the clearest instructions on what to do. ««»»
Copyrights and Trademarks
Library of Congress Copyright Office Site: Look under "Legislation" for both a summary of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in PDF format and for the text of all the copyright laws, including the DMCA. The site also has general information and forms. ««»»
Library of Congress Thomas Site: This site, offered by the Library of Congress, provides comprehensive information on congressional legislation, the Congressional Record, committee information and tons of background information. ««»»
eleventh Commandment: This web campaign uses the term "11th commandment" to describe a set of principles including respect for copyright and opposition to bandwidth theft. It also advocates credit on the same page, a theme emphasized by another campaign: Give Credit Where Credit is Due. (eleventh Commandment is also on my Memberships Page.) ««»»
Give Credit Where Credit is Due: This campaign by Cathy (no last names please) works to promote credits, not just when credit is due, but also where. The answer to "where?" is "on the same page". Credits pages are hard to find, aren't looked at and may actually be helping to convince newbies that the graphics (or sound or text) is public domain. The campaign is similar to the 11th Commandment campaign but places more emphasis on the "where". (Give Credit Where Credit is Due is also on my Memberships Page.) ««»»
Grey Day: Grey Day's purpose is to raise awareness of the need to eliminate online plagiarism, the unlicensed use of copyrighted works, and bandwidth robbery. On Grey Day, October 1, 2003, (just like 2000, 2001 and 2002) participating individuals and companies of the Web will replace their websites' entrance page with a special grey page as a statement of global support and fellowship with the artists, writers, musicians and programmers of the World Wide Web. (Grey Day is also on my Memberships Page.) ««»»
Look But Don't Steal: This is an effort by a freelance graphic artist named Kristin. She has created a network of sites promoting respect for artists' rights, including copyright. (Look But Don't Steal is also on my Memberships Page.) ««»»
Spider Awareness: This campaign by web artist Robyn A works to help other web professionals learn about spiders, what they are, and how they can be both used and misused. (Spider Awareness is also on my Memberships Page.) ««»»
Take Responsibility: This web campaign seeks to make web creators aware of the need to actively protect artist's rights. Sites that vacuum images and music from across the web (then post a statement offering to remove something if you ask) work against this principal. Web creators should take responsibility themselves for identifying the artist, crediting the artist and complying with other use requirements. (Take Responsibility is also on my Memberships Page.) ««»»
Web Guard: Web Guard is an organization (and a webring) of websites and web authors dedicated to two principles: First, respect for other's original, copyrighted work. Second, avoiding bandwidth theft. (Bandwidth theft occurs when your website displays information from another site, instead of from a copy on your site.) NB: In Nov 1999, the Mother of Web Guard, Shena Delian O'Brien found it necessary to step away from her role as manager and graciously permitted me to assume the sponsorship, hosting and management of the site and the Webring. (Web Guard is also on my Memberships Page.) ««»»
What is Copyright Protection?: This site is an effort by an attorney and artist, Rebeca Delgado-Martinez Valette, to promote an understanding of copyright law and issues. Although she does not claim to be an expert on intellectual property law, her page is an excellent summary of copyright. (What is Copyright Protection is also on my Memberships Page.) ««»»
BitLaw: BitLaw is a comprehensive Internet resource on technology law, containing over 1,800 pages on patent, copyright, trademark, and Internet legal issues. It is the work of Daniel A. Tysver, a patent attorney with Beck & Tysver of Hopkins, Minnesota. ««»»
The Intellectual Property Renaissance In Cyberspace: Why Copyright Law Could Be Unimportant On The Internet (14.Aug.1997): An interesting article on the changes the internet might bring to copyright. ««»»
Image Search engines
Foto Search Image Search engine: Over 700,000 images (a/o 09.Jun.2005); allows users to search from over fifty top stock photography and image sources all at one site; find royalty-free photography, clipart pictures, illustrations, video clips, vector maps, and background clip art imagery. ««»»
Sound Search engines
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