Concern is mounting over the potential impact of Bill C-60 on Internet search engines. Soon after the bill was introduced, I raised concerns that the search engine provisions effectively create a notice and takedown system for search engines that could result in the removal of content from the search engine index based solely on an allegation of copyright infringement. The system contains no checks and balances or deterrence against false claims. It would therefore be ripe for abuse with the possibility that competitors will use it to decrease traffic to competitor sites, while creating significant new costs for search engines.
As recent reports in the Globe and Mail and CNET indicate, the potential problems with the provisions do not stop there. The provision seemingly rests on the assumption that caching content is an infringement that necessitates a limited liability provision. That is open to question, however, and Bill C-60 could be improved by clarifying that it does not purport to definitively decide the infringement issue and that it does not apply to mere indexing of content. I suspect we will hear much more about the search engine question as surely everyone involved in copyright policy recognizes the importance of getting this issue right.