Belgian Court Says Google News Infringes Copyright

Posted May 11, 2011

An appeals court in Belgium has upheld an earlier decision that Google is infringing on newspaper copyright when they link to content on newspaper websites through Google News. Google is not allowed to link to Belgian newspapers and they will be hit with a fine of ?25,000 every day that they fail to remove the links.

Newspaper agency Copiepresse sued Google on behalf of the newspapers in 2006. The newspapers said that they were losing online subscribers and ad revenue because Google took posted snippets of their newspapers.

Another problem that Copiepresse has with Google News is the cached copies of the newspaper websites hosted on their own servers. A judge in Belgium ruled that Google has to remove all the content from Belgian newspapers from Google News, but that ruling was upheld by the Court of First Instance in February 2007. Google claimed that their use is protected under a fair use exemption, but the court disagreed. After that Google appealed the decision.

“We believe that Google News is fully consistent with applicable copyright laws,” stated Google spokesman Mark Jones. “Referral is the common practice of search engines, Google News and just about everyone on the Internet. We remain committed to work with publishers, and continue to seek new ways to generate revenue for the online distribution of news.”