Copyright Protection for Search Results: “Hiybbprqag,” “Mbzrxpgjys,” and “Indoswiftjobinproduction”

Since the digital revolution, it is estimated that the sum of all information in the world doubles every two years. Yet information is only useful to the extent people can effectively access and utilize the information they need. The search engine Google has met this challenge better than any of its competitors and as a result has become one of the most profitable companies in the world. In 2010, Google began to suspect that a competing search engine, Bing, was copying Google’s search results in order to gain a competitive edge. Yet, despite the immense financial implications at stake, whether search results have any legal protection is an unsettled question. This note examines whether search engine results are eligible for copyright protection by applying the unique technological features of search engines to relevant copyright doctrines, and discusses whether copyright protection for search results would benefit the public.