Google in copyright setback

February 14, 2007

Google has been ruled against in a copyright case in Belgium which has the potential to influence courts in other European countries. Probably not in the United States where laws are more permissible than ours.

The court ordered the Google to stop from showing excerpts of articles from French- and German-language Belgian newspapers on Google News and Google’s Web search site for Belgium, reaffirming the earlier ruling by the same court against the company. Google faces a daily fine if it fails to heed the order, although the court reduced this from $1.3 million to $32,500 (still a fair whack, but easily affordable by Google). Google have said they will appeal the ruling.

This is all connected to the way Google caches the copy from results and displays extracts. Google are not the only people doing this (we did this many years ago with a portal which used intelligent agents to scrape the web) so if the ruling remains upheld in Europe I’d expect other sites to get taken to court (unless of course this is more anti-Google than anti-free press…).

It is of course the newspapers who will lose the most from this ruling. I’m certain Google will just stop indexing their sites and then how are they going to attract visitors considering around 60%+ of most websites visitors tend to originate from the search engine…


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