Search Engines for Audio-Visual Content: Copyright Law and Its Policy Relevance

  • Boris Rotenberg
  • Ramón Compañó
Part of the Contributions to Economics book series (CE)


The first generation of search engines caused relatively few legal problems in terms of copyright. They merely retrieved text data from the web and displayed short text-snippets in reply to a specific user query. Over time, search engines have become efficient retrieval tools, which have shifted from a reactive response mode (‘user pull’) to pro-actively proposing options (‘user push’). Moreover, they will soon be organising and categorising of all sorts of audio-visual information. Due to these transformations, search engines are becoming fully-fledged information portals, rivalling traditional media. This will cause tensions with traditional media and content owners. As premium audiovisual content is generally more costly to produce and commercially more valuable than text-based content, one may expect copyright litigation problems to arise in the future. Given this perspective, this article briefly introduces search engine technology and business rationale and then summarizes the nature of current copyright litigation. The copyright debate is then put in the audiovisual context with a view to discussing elements for future policies.

In Memoriam: Boris Rotenberg passed away on 23rd December 2007 in an unfortunate ski-accident at the age of 31. This is the last article he wrote. His colleagues from the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies will always remember him for his professional achievements and his personal life which will remain an example for many.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official view of the European Commission on the subject. Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the European Commission can be made responsible for the content of this article.


Search Engine Content Provider Digital Right Management Legal Certainty Content Owner 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© Physica-Verlag Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Boris Rotenberg
    • 1
  • Ramón Compañó
    • 1
  1. 1.European Commission, Joint Research CentreInstitute for Prospective Technological StudiesSevillaSpain

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