Australia's new copyright law may result search engines blocking access to the country. PM John Howard sold Australia's copyright law out as part of the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, through which Australia agreed to change its copyright laws to surpass America's own disastrous system.
The new law will create punishing potential liability for search engines who do not secure permission for indexing, cacheing and and searching every website in their database. In order to protect themselves from liability, search engine operators would have to contact every single web-author who ever lived.
Critics say Australian copyright laws do not take into account how information is gathered and presented on the Internet.
Dr Rimmer says Internet search engines could be crippled by the proposed copyright changes, which protect libraries, archives and research institutions but leave commercial entities like Google out in the cold.
He says this will affect the ability of search engines to engage in digitisation projects like book search, provide images, index news stories and archive web content.
"Given the amount of litigation that Google has been involved in the last year, I think they've got very genuine fears that they could be subject to copyright actions in Australia," he said.
He says rather than adopting the narrow "fair use" definitions contained in the legislation, Australia should adopt a US-style open-ended fair-use defence to ensure a flow of and access to information.
Mark Pesce has a great op-ed about this in today's Melbourne Age.