publishing and communicating in the WWW [was Re: Distributed querying on the semantic web]

[Extracted from a longer exchange.]

> []
>  > Google has already removed pages from its cache for various legal
>  > reasons - and this in the United States where the protections on
>  > communication are (still) quite strong.  In other legal jurisdictions
>  > there are even more kinds of communication and retransmission of
>  > communications that are prohibited.  Note that Google puts an explicit
>  > disclaimer at the beginning of pages served from its cache (which
>  > means that its cache cannot really be viewed as a cache).
>  > 
>  > > The pages that you view on the internet come via your internet service
>  > > provider, however you don't attribute the legal authority of these
>  > > pages to your ISP. (Although people did try and do this in the early
>  > > days of the web).
>  > 
>  > This is only because ISPs have managed to obtain a particular legal
>  > status that is (almost certainly) not available to Google.  
> Do you think it will be available to Google in the future?
> (ISPs have ~10 years on search engine caches)

No, I don't think so.  Google's problem is that it purposefully retains
information and thus can be considered to be deliberatively distributing
the information it retains, as opposed to an internet transport provider
which only retains this information to support the communication of the
information between other parties.  As I understand it, it was this
(short-term) retention that made it uncertain as to whether internet
transport providers would be protected by common carrier status.  (I am not
a lawyer, but my understanding of this issue may not be appreciably better
than you would get from a lawyer.)

ISPs that host information are, I think, in a situation similar to that of
Google.  They certainly have been asked to remove certain kinds of
information that they serve on the behalf of their customers.

> Where does that leave open forums? wikis?

Well, again, I think that such publishing forums would have to remove
certain kinds of material, and could be successfully prosecuted if they did
not do so, or even if they became known to be sources of certain kinds of

Peter F. Patel-Schneider

Received on Wednesday, 21 April 2004 03:39:52 UTC