Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Belgian newspapers force Google to negotiate

Google is not allowed to publish text and photographic news items from French and German language newspapers in Google News in Belgium. According to the Belgian judge Google infringes on copyright. The court case was instituted by the Belgian newspaper publishers. The ban will start next Monday; when Google continues publishing news items if will forfeit 1 million euro a day. Google had already removed news items from newspapers such as Le Soir and La Libre Belgique.

It is interesting to see that the French and German language newspapers have forced the ruling. They were united in the company Copiepress. Not part of Copiepress' court case was the band of Flemish newspapers as some newspapers had already been withdrawn by Google.

The judge based his ruling on the expert opinion og Luc Golvers, the internet expert and chairman of Belcliv, the Belgian club of information security. Golvers considers Google News as a news portal and not as a search engine. AS the articles are cached, vistors can still read the item, even after the publuisher has removed it from his own site. In the opinion og Golvers, newspapers loose control over their own copy and revenues. The judge remarked that Google gets 13 million euro a day of advertisemnet revenues; part of this is taken from the newspaper publishers.

The judgement has been hailed by all newspaper publishers’ associations in Belgium, Europe and worldwide. A spokesperson of Copiepress does not see the ruling limited to Belgium. She notes that there is a growing consensus to force Google to respect copyright.

The world association of newspaper publishers AMJ is of the opinion that this ruling will give the publishers the right to have a say over the application of their content. Within the AMJ a working party is already busy drawing up conditions such as usage and pay for third parties, who want to publish news items.

Not only the newspaper publishers are relieved by the ruling, but also the associations of journalists in Belgium and the Netherlands have applauded the ruling. They think that Google will be forced to come to the table and negotiate.

It looks like Google either is unsure about the ruling or is taking revenge on the newspapers which started the court case. Whoever is searching for "" will not get any results any more about the newspaper Le Soir. It is unknown whether Google will appeal the ruling. Google is still facing a lawsuit in France by Agence France, which wants to be compensated for illegal use of its press releases.

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Blog Posting Number: 514

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