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Belgian Publishers Want $77.5 Million Damages From Google

 2:08 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

A group of Belgian newspaper publishers wants Google to pay up to 49.2 million (US$77.5 million) in damages for violating copyright law by publishing their articles on Google News and caching their web pages.

It made the claim in a court summons served last week, and made public on Wednesday. The Belgian publishers' group Copiepresse first filed suit over the Google News service in April 2006.

"We entered in negotiations with Google to reach an agreement, but they have now failed," said Margaret Boribon, secretary general at Copiepresse.

Belgian Publishers Want $77.5 Million Damages From Google [pcworld.com]



 10:57 pm on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

...wants the court to review Google's server logs going as far back as 2001, to see how many readers have consulted its members' news articles.

The keyword is "members". ...

Copiepresse is something like RIAA, they represent their members (read the French speaking newspapers in Belgium). So they want to see how many end users have consulted the news articles stored (contended) illegally at Google. I guess they're after views of the caches etc.

As for newspapers giving a few days free access and charging thereafter: that's no that uncommon a tactic, but the caches out there make it pretty hard to get it going for the copyright owner (who can decide what they want cached and whatnot). Remember the rather broad "fair use" in the US isn't always present outside of the US, and Google not being a newsagency is going to hurt them in court AFAIK.



[edited by: swa66 at 11:07 pm (utc) on May 29, 2008]


 11:05 pm on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

The fun part: Copiepresse has a list on their website of all the domains of newspapers they (claim to) represent.

I wonder how long it'll take for that list to be blacklisted in many a place around the Internet (and that'll hurt them more than getting a manual review from GOOG).


 3:46 am on May 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

violating copyright law by publishing their articles on Google News and caching their web pages.

Forgive me, in this case, Belgian newspaper publishers regard Google as world's largest thief.


 3:58 pm on May 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google offered to remove these snippets and links, but the copyright owners said they didn't want removal because they appreciated the traffic Google gave them!

Either Google has damaged them (in which case why didn't they take up Google's offer to be removed?) or helped them (in which case why are they seeking damages?).

They can't have it both ways, yet that's exactly what they're now demanding: money from Google AND links from Google.

This is extremely short sighted of them, they will regret this action when Google and other similar services avoid linking to them in news services in the future.


 11:57 pm on Jun 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Actually there was a court ruling that GOOG lost big time. GOOG appealed, and GOOG and copiepresse (french speaking press rights group) entered talks and asked the court for more time.

Now the newspapers seem to want cash, not waiting on the appeal. I doubt it'll fly, and would get appealed easily as well even if it flew.

The bottom line is that many robots collect copyrighted material and that -outside of the US- that copying has no legal grounds to be based on. While opt-out exists, it's irrelevant as you need prior permissions before copying something. Permission that's not going to be given by not excluding the specific bot doing the copying.
There are provisions for ISPs and their caches and store and forward protocols etc. There are also provisions for news agencies, but Google is (legally speaking) neither of those.

Wait till copypresse discovers archive.org ;-)


 1:03 pm on Jun 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

not sure if this is related, and couldn't really verify the source, but sure would be interesting if they really did think so:

WAN 2008: People will pay for web content, says Google [blogs.guardian.co.uk]

Nikesh Arora, president Google for Europe, Middle East and Africa and vice president Google UK, believes that the web economy will evolve just like the print economy - and that means people will pay for content online, writes Stephen Brook.

"The business model on the web is going to be no different to the business model today," Arora tells the audience at the World Editors Forum at the World Association of Newspapers 2008 conference.

People pay for books, they receive free information, supported by advertising, they pay for premium content, such as Bloomberg terminals. "The web will be no different....There's going to be a spectrum," he said.

English is somehow funny in this blog post.
Don't know why but apart of the title, I couldn't make heads or tails of the comments.


 1:09 pm on Jun 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Don't some people already pay for premium content? And until sites like Google decide they want to crackdown on illegal sites(which use Adsense to make money and contacting Google about it has done nothing) then no ones going to pay for contact which they can get for free.


 11:54 pm on Jun 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

WAN 2008: People will pay for web content, says Google

That simple: I indeed pay an ISP to be connected to the Internet. Both at home and at a number of data centers for my servers.

I pay my "Internet" library card every month. ;-)

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