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Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Google Warns Against Changes to Australian Copyright Law

Internet search-engine giant Google has warned that proposed changes to Australia's copyright laws could drive the country back to "the pre-Internet era".

The warning came in a submission to Australia's senate on legislation Google said could open the way for copyright owners to take legal action against search engines for caching and archiving.

"Given the vast size of the Internet, it is impossible for a search engine to contact personally each owner of a web page to determine whether the owner desires its web page to be searched, indexed or cached," Google said Tuesday.

"If such advanced permission was required, the internet would promplty grind to a halt," Google's senior counsel and head of public policy Andrew McLaughlin told the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

Such requirements would "condemn the Australian public to the pre-internet era and will place them at a serious competitive disadvantage with those in other countries who have such access," McLaughlin said.

The Australian government says the new laws are designed to keep up with the fast pace of technological change, but McLaughlin said they failed to take into account the reality of how information was processed and provided online.

"Google believes that the bill fails significantly to bring Australia's Copyright Act fully into the digital age," it said.

Google has been locked in copyright disputes with several content providers globally, including Agence France-Presse, who have complained the Internet giant had used their material without permission or compensation.

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