Belgian newspapers bring second action against Google

July 2008


Codiepresse, the copyright collecting society for Belgian newspapers, has announced that they are suing Google for publishing and storing their content in the main Google search engine and its news aggregator, claiming damages of between 32.8 million Euros (£25.9 million) and 49.2 million Euros (£38.8 million). The organisation said that the losses were calculated by a professor at the University Libre de Bruxelles, based on articles stored by Google since the 13th April 2001 and Google News since it launched in Belgium in 2006. Copiepresse have already successfully sued Google once. In 2006 a Belgian court ruled in favour of a claim to have content removed from and Google News. Following that ruling, Google said: “It is important to remember that both Google Web Search and Google News only ever show a few snippets of text. If people want to read the entire story they have to click through to the web publisher’s site where the information resides. We believe search engines are of real benefit to publishers because they drive valuable traffic to their websites”. Here Google tried to put copyright owners on the backfoot saying “If publishers do not want their websites to appear in search results, technical standards like robots.txt and metatags enable them automatically to prevent the indexation of their content. These Internet standards are nearly universally accepted and are honoured by all reputable search engines. In addition, Google has a clear policy of respecting the wishes of content owners. If a newspaper does not want to be part of Google News, we remove their content from our index – all the newspaper has to do is ask”.,128985/article.html

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