Monday, June 02, 2008

BPN 1117 Belgian newspapers claim 49 million euro from Google

Copiepresse, a copyright body for 19 Belgian French and German languages newspapers, is seeking 49.1 million euros from Google Inc. in a lawsuit over the right to feature links to the publishers' content on the Internet.

Copiepresse asked a Brussels court to award this sum. A court ruled last year, that Google violated Belgian copyright laws by publishing links to articles on Google News without permission. The damages of 32 million euro are in addition to a daily fine of 25,000 euros, ordered by the court ordered.

Google and the Belgian newspapers started discussions about a settlement and an agreement after the court ruling in February 2007. Google did immediately remove the links to Belgian French and German languages newspapers in its search engine and on Google News.

In May 2007 Google removed the cached data. The agreement allowed Internet users to access Belgian newspapers again on Google's Web site in the country.
In addition to damages, Copiepresse is also asking the judge to have Google publish the court ruling from last year on in a visible and clear manner. If Google does not publish the ruling, the group seeks a 1 million-euro daily fine.

The sentence will stir up a debate all around Europe, except for the parts which are covered by Angel-Saxon jurisdiction. In practice the newspaper organisations in other European countries can go to court and try to stop Google news. They might have a good chance.

The sentence hinged on three aspects: consent, deeplinking and caching. Google News set up the service in Belgium without asking the Belgian publishers. Google said that it did not have to do this as it used the searching machine and set up a link. Google News deeplinked to the relevant article, without passing the front page. But the caching problem was really at the core of the court case. Google News did not just linked to the relevant article, but also kept it in cache.

With the Belgian sentence in their pocket newspaper publishing associations will start other court cases. Of course they could ask Google News to take off the titles of their associated members voluntarily as the Flemish publishers, united in Rerocopy, did. But many associations want to make clear to Google that copyright and database rules are different at the other side of the pond.

Blog Posting Number: 1117

Tags: copyright, newspaper, , ,

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