Wired’s Nate Anderson has a great write-up over at Ars Technica of the “Legitimate Sites v. Parasites” hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee today, and it’s not looking good for Internet intermediaries:
[T]he general mood of the hearing was that tough new steps must be taken. As Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) asked [Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John] Morton during his questioning, “What change in the law would allow you to pursue everyone?”
In his written testimony before the committee (PDF), Kent Walker, Google’s Senior VP and General Counsel noted that such an all-inclusive approach would be impossible and counterproductive:
When it comes to offshore rogue sites, no one should think that imposing additional obligations on search engines, social networks, directories, or bloggers beyond the DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] will be a panacea. If the site remains on the web, neither search engines nor social networks nor the numerous other intermediaries through which users post links can prevent Internet users from talking about, linking to, or referencing the existence of the site. These links or references will themselves appear in search results, and will enable users to reach the site. Simply put, search engines are not in a position to censor the entire Internet, deleting every mention of the existence of a site. If a rogue site remains accessible on the Internet, relying on search engines to try to make it “unfindable” is an impossible endeavor. [emphasis added]
I recommend reading Walker’s full comments for a robust defense of why the notice-and-takedown immunity provided by the DMCA is essential for innovation.