If Sued for Copyright Infringement, Wayback Machine Could Owe 2,000 Times the US National Debt

Wednesday Jan 5th 2011 by Keith Vance
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The nonprofit Internet Archive has more than 150 billion Web pages archived. Congress passed a law that levels a $150,000 fine for each copyright violation.

There's a law in the US that levies a $150,000 fine per copyright infringement if convicted. Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine" has 150 billion Web pages in its archive.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, if the nonprofit Internet Archive were successfully sued for copyright infringement, the organization could be forced to pay out damages amounting to 2,000 times the national debt.

The national debt is now at about $14 trillion.

"Sure, it's quite possible the Archive would win such a case, just as Google won the right to make thumbnail copies of copyrighted images for its search engine," Ars Technica's Nate Anderson said, "but the possibility of losing is so terrifying that it might encourage settlement--or scare entrepreneurs off such ideas altogether. And damages can be awarded without any need to prove actual losses."


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