Colorado Woman Sues To Hold Web Crawlers To Contracts

A Web Site owner has filed a lawsuit against the Internet Archive.

Question: “Can software programs be held liable for their actions?”

“Computers can enter into contracts on behalf of people”… Yes,and thanks to the UETA, therein lies half of the problems we face as a result of using the “World Wide Web” as it exists today.

According to the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), a “contract may be formed by the interaction of electronic agents of the parties, even if no individual was aware of or reviewed the electronic agents’ actions or the resulting terms and agreements.”

…and as the author of the article points out, “This presumes a prior agreement to do business electronically”.

So what constitutes such an agreement? The Internet Archive, which spiders the Internet to copy Web sites for posterity (unless site owners opt out), is being sued by a Web site owner for…and I quote; “conversion, civil theft, breach of contract, and violations of the Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations act and the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act.”

Whoa…

The Web-Author’s site states, “IF YOU COPY OR DISTRIBUTE ANYTHING ON THIS WEB SITE, YOU ARE ENTERING INTO A CONTRACT,”

Imagine trying to teach a Web Spider how to read contracts… and laugh yourself silly.

… or sick.

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Graphic Thanks to Tony DiTerlizzi

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