These sites certainly send bots out that copy the entirety of websites by stepping through links and then store the entirety of websites in databases.

Then they show any part of a quote from a website when someone searches for that quote by almost certainly searching through databases that they own, and finding results.

Is this allowed Internationally and in the USA because of "Fair Use" and "Fair Dealing"?

I found a few potentially relevant cases:



Seems like the Search Engine defense has something to do with "re"-"search", "search", "education", "school", "investigation", etc. where it's possible to copy an entire website, book, etc. as long as it's for one of those purposes.

In the same line of thinking, seems like someone could copy and store any video, audio, 3d blueprint, etc.

Then, under the pretense of being a start up endeavor that someday might be for "scholarly", "investigative", or "search" purposes.

  • they could create unlimited copies of that "data",
  • they could share that "data" in it's entirety with anyone who is a shareholder of their (pre-ipo) company, which could literally be everyone in the world,
  • they could share a part of that "data" with anyone who asks as long as it is transformed in some way, like a audio eq, video color shift, or something (where obviously AI/ML or something is utilized for search)

Am I correct in reaching that ^ conclusion? And if not, where is the line?

It seems like 2023 copyright essentially guarantees the copyright holder nothing except the ability to directly collect money from the act of giving someone a complete copy of a work.

  • @BlueDogRanch it adds to my understanding. Nevertheless, my main point is that search companies (which could give a "share" to everyone in the world) are seemingly allowed to make copies of all the literature, and select images, on the internet. Seems like that could easily be abstracted to any other type of data, but my guess is the courts usually draw the line at literature. Aug 21, 2023 at 15:06

1 Answer 1


The “line” is the one between fair use and not fair use

To be fair use, the courts weigh the following factors:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

No one factor is determinative.

It is not possible to determine if something is fair use in advance, each case is judged on its own merits. This makes it different from fair dealing where it is possible to determine in advance - in theory.

That said, there are situations where the use is clearly fair, situations where it clearly isn’t, and situations where it could go either way.

Google’s use is fair because the courts have said it is. Your proposed uses are probably not: the purpose isn’t legitimate because it’s a “pretence”, the use isn’t transformative, the entire work is being copied, and it will have a deleterious effect on the primary market. While I said no one factor was determinative, when you score 0 from 4, your chances are not good.

  • I guess courts decided that text search engines are primarily good, and thus decided that web site literature doesn't deserve the same protections that (all?) new literature received pre-internet. Aug 21, 2023 at 15:12

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