|Legal Advice and Search Engine Laws|
Many analysts are of the view that the search engine laws are still in formative stage and the courts have only just started to recognize them.
The Search Engine laws may broadly cover four specific areas such as intellectual property, freedom of expression, anti-trust, and the transparency of search algorithms. The concerned law-makers are aware of the compelling necessity to frame appropriate and laws and put them into force as the use of search engines are growing up exponentially. Let us not be surprised if in the foreseeable future we come across rulings, settlements, or legislation pertaining to search engines.
The one big complication all of us can visualize is the use or misuse of copyright. Search engines must positively be entitled to use of copyrighted materials, in larger public interest, for the purposes of education and dissemination of information. To what extent a search engine can claim fair use to index Web sites, databases, books, and other copyrighted content is the crux of the problem. There are pending lawsuits filed against Google's new Book Search engine and these could result in far-reaching consequences when legally settled.
It is said that during the last four years, Google has digitally scanned and indexed books so they can be searched like Web pages, using Google Book Search. If reports are to be believed Google has scanned more than a million volumes from the most treasured libraries-such as the Harvard and Oxford libraries, and the New York Public Library. During 2005, the Authors Guild filed a lawsuit protesting the large-scale scanning by Google and claiming violation of copyright. Despite the lapse of now nearly three years, the case is still pending in the courts. This case when heard and judgment delivered can create history and give shape and direction to copyright laws for search engines.
Many scholars opine that if courts begin to treat search engines as Internet newspapers, then regulating their content including the advertisements would be difficult. Free speech is a major legal shield that search engines now have. Lack of proper regulations is a great been for search engines. Business enterprises accuse Google and its peers of bias and lack of transparency in search-engine rankings. If laws are in place, then search engines can be sued for more accountability to ensure that the rankings are not secretly made or otherwise manipulated.
Search engine rankings are beginning to play an increasingly crucial role for doing business in this internet age. A bad search engine ranking, if wrongly or unjustly made can ring the death bell for an online business. The more transparent search algorithms are, they will be less prone to shady extraneous manipulations and other search-engine optimization tricks.
Law-makers, lawyers and the law-enforcing agencies have taken notice of the lack of suitable laws to rein in the search engines. Governments around the world are questioning whether the behavior and actions of search engines are always reflecting social interests. More and more people are complaining that their interests have been harmed by search engines.
People are beginning to feel that if legislation waits indefinitely and laws are not framed in time, then the search engines would have traveled too for setting her own laws which will become difficult to alter or substitute at a later date.
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