Google, Getty Images enter a multi-year global licensing partnership

Late last week, Google parent Alphabet and Getty Images announced a sweeping partnership that effectively ends a long-standing copyright and antitrust dispute between Getty and Google, which was filed in early 2016.
The newly announced deal was characterized by Getty as “a multi-year global licensing partnership, enabling Google to use Getty Images’ content within its various products and services.” As part of that deal, Google will be using Getty images across many of its “products and services.”
Another change, according to The Verge, is that Google will make copyright attribution and disclaimers more prominent in image search results and will remove view links to stand-alone URLs for Getty photographs.
Getty’s complaint against Google alleged traffic and revenue losses to its customers’ sites because users could see (and potentially copy) images directly from Google Image Search results. Getty claimed that the ability to save and download images promoted copyright infringement and “piracy.” Getty is not the only party to have made

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New EU copyright rules: basic fairness or punitive media subsidy?

Years ago the internet effectively destroyed the once mighty business model of newspapers. It has also put considerable pressure on other traditional media and entertainment, which often argue their work is being pirated and distributed online without fair compensation.
There can be little dispute that journalism is critical to democratic societies. However the question is what do about the business models of legacy media organizations. The recently proposed EU copyright directive has one answer — and it’s one that Google doesn’t like very much.
Here’s what the European Commission says the proposed rules will accomplish:

better choice and access to content online and across borders
improved copyright rules on research, education and inclusion of disabled people
a fairer and sustainable marketplace for creators, the creative industries and the press.

One of the additional objectives of the new rules, which must be approved by the European Parliament, is to harmonize copyright laws across the EU. However, Google says the directive would take the largely

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European court says linking to illegal content is copyright infringement

In a decision that is already controversial, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled in favor of copyright owners and against hyperlinks. The CJEU decision, though qualified, raises the strong possibility that publishers linking to infringing third party sites will also be liable for infringement.
Critics charge the CJEU decision amounts to judicial lawmaking and is an attack on the free flow of information online, contrary to the way the internet has operated to date. It also places a burden of investigation on the linking publisher to determine whether the linked content is authorized or infringing. In some cases that may be easy to determine but in many others it won’t be.
The facts of the present case were egregious but the law created by the court is bad for the internet.
The copyrighted material at issue in the case, GS Media vs Sanoma, were photos (presumably nude) of Dutch celebrity Britt Dekker, which were owned by

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German Publisher Group Sues Google Again Under Draconian Copyright Law

A group of German publishers has filed a civil complaint against Google. The group, constituted as VG Media, claims to be enforcing Germany’s “Ancillary Copyright” Law, passed in 2013. This is the latest episode in an ongoing dispute between German news publishers and Google.
Essentially, the publishers are suing to get Google to pay them for showing their content in search results. Yet it’s not entirely clear whether the complaint addresses search broadly or just Google News. My suspicion is the former, although I have not seen the complaint.
Google has not seen the complaint itself and so declined to comment on the suit or claims presented.
Apparently, this is the fifth civil or administrative claim filed by VG Media against Google in Germany. Three of those claims have been resolved in Google’s favor, and two others, including the newest case, are pending. As implied by the number of claims filed, there’s quite a tortured history here. I’ll do my

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Authors Guild Appeals Lower Court Decision Backing Google’s Book Digitizing Project

Google’s ambitious effort to digitize millions of paper books — and make them searchable — may be entering a new legal phase.
According to a story in this weekend’s Jurist, The Authors Guild and three of its author-members filed a petition on New Year’s Eve asking the US Supreme Court to review a lower court’s decision that backed Google.
The petition says:
Google made full digital copies of millions of books it obtained from libraries’ shelves without the authors’ consent. As payment, Google gave the libraries digital copies of the books. Google makes the books’ full text searchable on its revenue-generating search engine, and displays verbatim excerpts in response to users’ searches.
The plaintiffs have contended that millions of the 20 million books already scanned are still protected by copyright and that Google digitized them “without permission of rights holders.”
Users can employ Google’s search engine to look for specific words or terms in the books, and they’ll see snippets of text

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Ending Decade Of Litigation Court OKs Google Book Scanning As “Fair Use”

A three-judge panel for the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals has definitively ruled that Google’s full-text book scanning is “fair use” and thus protected from claims of copyright infringement. So unless The Authors Guild, which originally sued Google in 2005, wants to appeal to the US Supreme Court,  Google has won.
Fair use is a defense against copyright infringement (17 U.S.C. § 107) that allows otherwise copyright-protected material to be used without permission for purposes of teaching, research, news, commentary and criticism. However, fair use must not “excessively damage the market for the original by providing the public with a substitute for that original work.”
The appellate court found that Google’s book-scanning project met this criterion. The fact that Google might have a commercial interest or motivation was not seen as defeating the fair use argument.
Google can now realize its vision of a comprehensive digital library more than a decade after it launched — if it still has

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German Newspaper Publisher Trying Bring Failed “Google Tax” To All Of Europe

Profile

 
Disruptive technologies are often met with lobbying efforts to block them by vested interests trying to preserve the status quo. One such example is the unsuccessful effort by taxi companies to use the law to hold back Uber’s advance, especially in Europe. Another is the European newspaper industry’s efforts to boost sagging revenues with strict “anti-piracy” laws that are effectively a “Google tax.”
The strategy of trying to force Google to pay publishers for their content, in the form of restrictive copyright laws, has been tried in Germany and Spain with unwelcome and unintended consequences for the publishers. In Germany, publishers saw traffic and ad-revenue declines; in Spain, Google shuttered its News site rather than be subject to the copyright scheme. It’s mysterious, then why the publishers are trying to expand this strategy to the entirety of Europe.
According to Politico, German publishing giant Axel Springer (which just spent $400+ million for Business Insider) is leading the charge to

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PhantomALERT: Waze Stole Our Database And Sold It To Google For $1 Billion

Traffic violation-avoidance app maker PhantomALERT has sued Waze/Google for copyright violations and related claims. The company contends that Waze stole its points of interest (POI) database after partnership negotiations broke down between the two companies.
Google is named in the suit only as the legal owner of and successor to Waze. No specific Google wrongdoing is alleged. The plaintiff is asking for, among other things, compensatory and punitive damages.
Here are the critical facts according to the complaint (embedded below):
Only July 30, 2102, Noam Bardin, the CEO of Waze, sent Yoseph Seyoum, the CEO of PhantomALERT, an email with a proposal to cooperate in the operation of their respective GPS-mapping companies.
Later that same day, Bardin and Seyoum spoke by telephone. During the call, Bardin proposed that Waze and PhantomALERT exchange their respective Points of Interest databases. Because Waze did not appear to have substantial data to share, Seyoum declined Bardin’s offer.
After Seyoum rejected Bardin’s offer to exchange databases … 

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9 Outcomes Of Google’s Pirate Algorithm: Should You Be Concerned?

The SEO world erupts into hysteria whenever Google rolls out another algorithm update. With most algo updates, we know what we should do: better content, fewer keywords, higher quality links, unoptimized anchor text, etc.
However, when it came to Google’s Pirate Update back in 2012, which was designed to algorithmically penalize pirate sites, we weren’t quite sure what to do. Was this just a slap on the wrist for pirate sites, or are there lessons that all SEOs and marketers could learn?
Now, several months out from Pirate’s most recent update, I want to take a look at the impact and make sure we understand what’s going on.
Piracy’s History As A Search Issue
First off, for all you algo alliteration fans, “Pirate” starts with a “P.” Unlike penguins, pandas, and pigeons, however, the term “piracy” is more intentional and less abstract.
Piracy is a major problem. Although companies like Warner, Sony, and Disney aggressively fight piracy, they’ve had little success in defeating the biggest culprit

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Getting Better, But Google Still Has Work On Piracy: The Game Of Thrones Story

Last October, Google promised that it was stepping up efforts to fight online piracy of TV and movie content. A new ranking algorithm would downrank illegitimate sources. New ad and “Knowledge Graph” units would direct people to legitimate sources. Six months later, the launch of the latest season of HBO’s Game Of Thrones TV series shows that Google is doing well in some respects but still has more work to do in others. The same is true for Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
Game Of Thrones is a useful case study because of its past history of being one of the most pirated shows online. A key factor has been that many people have had no legitimate way to purchase the most current season online. HBO Go provides this but only to those with HBO already through cable subscriptions. As a result, those without cable might dig deeper into the search results, seeking episodes from the current season, legitimate or not.
This season is

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