July 14, 2005

Internet Archive sued

The Internet Archive and its front end, the Wayback Machine, are the targets of a lawsuit, the New York Times reports today, by Healthcare Advocates. The other defendant in the lawsuit is a Philadelphia law firm that used the Wayback Machine to gather information about Healthcare Advocates in preparing a previous case.

Healthcare Advocates claims that the law firm and the Internet Archive have infringed on the copyright of their web pages, which are stored in the Internet Archive's database, as well as violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A further issue is that Healthcare Advocates' web site had used the technique of "robots.txt" to prevent the Internet Archive's web-crawler bot from gathering displaying information it had gathered from the company's web site. The Internet Archive's bot respected the robots.txt command (although that is purely voluntary, and there would have been no legal requirement to do so), but it was still possible to search and find some of the pages that Healthcare Advocates had hoped to suppress by means of the robots.txt command.

Legal experts quoted in the article claim that it will be very difficult to prove violations of the copyright act. Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive had no comment.

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