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Belgian Publishers Want $77.5 Million Damages From Google

     
2:08 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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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]

2:30 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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While I can understand the copyright concerns, I wonder how they came up with the $77.5M in damages.
2:33 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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They must have found evidence of about 11,625 violations + a bit for their effort and legal bills. They probably got that number from a site: search and then took whatever number Google produced that day for number of search results.
2:43 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Copiepresse 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.

me thinks google would settle before it ever gets close to them handing over server logs, if they do hand them over can i get a copy?

2:46 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Viacom and now Belgium? Everyone wants a piece of the Google pie.
3:09 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Everyone wants a piece of the Google pie.

Well there’s no doubt if the pie wasn’t so enormous a lot of the people who are all up in arms about this really wouldn’t care. The amount of profit is staggering and now people want Google to pay for using their content so effectively. Whether it’s a cached snippet displayed in the serp’s, newspaper articles or posted video’s on YouTube it’s a common theme; using other peoples work to gain eyeballs that they then in turn sell advertising for.

Don’t get me wrong, everyday I work on ways to get Google to use my content and web sites. But the fact of the matter is they don’t create anything on their own, the whole model is about “organizing the worlds information” for their own monetization.

Of course it’s pretty easy to stop them from crawling and indexing your content, which makes the whole argument a bit more interesting.

3:46 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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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.

Maybe I'm missing something here. Suppose Google picks up a headline and snippet from a Belgian newspaper article and displays in a Google news search.

Someone who wouldn't otherwise visit that newspaper's site does visit, via Google, to read the article. While there, the person clicks on a PPC ad or simply registers an impression that is used to sell CPM ad space on the newspaper's site.

Now imagine this happens a few hundred thousand times. Shouldn't the value of those visitors be subtracted from the $77.5 million figure?

FarmBoy

4:20 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Now imagine this happens a few hundred thousand times. Shouldn't the value of those visitors be subtracted from the $77.5 million figure?

Two days later: It is decided Belgium newspapers in fact owe Google 3.4 million.

4:41 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It doesn't matter whether the search engines bring in money after a visitor browses the cached version. That's not their business model.
Say I give you 3 days to read my ebook. After those 3 days the free access disappears. But you have made a copy others can view. Even if your copy does bring me money somehow, you weren't allowed to keep a copy and I'm not interested in the business model you force upon me.
5:04 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hmmm ... They dried up the tobacco industry, and Google is the next cash cow.

;)

5:21 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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After those 3 days the free access disappears. But you have made a copy others can view.

I've done that a lot actually. I'll search for a solution to something and when I get there, it tells me I have to pay to see it because I'm not a member. But who needs that, I've got Google's cached results.

5:39 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if they are a member of the ACAP consortium?
5:59 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Say I give you 3 days to read my ebook.

But Google isn't providing me access to the full article without visiting the newspaper's site, is it? When I search Google news, I see snippets that provide enough information to whet my appetite but I need to visit the newspaper's site to read the full article and context.

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6:17 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Now imagine this happens a few hundred thousand times. Shouldn't the value of those visitors be subtracted from the $77.5 million figure?

And using the server logs, determine how many people then clicked on the link to go to the newspaper sites. Determine a fair amount per click (assume a minimum of $.05/click for using AdWords) and subtract THAT number from the $77.5 million to see how much the newspapers owe Google! :)
8:22 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure about Belgium, but under US law, this wouldn't fly.

For one, they're using a derivative work (a snippet of the article), then linking directly to the source. As far as I've seen, Google doesn't even show ads on the news page (though they swap things around so much that I can't be sure, can someone else corroborate?)

There's no profit, and no damages. Cacheing may be another thing, but even that's stretching the copyright violation here; I've never seen ads on a cached page either!

Under fair use, Google's not making a profit directly off their work from the news search page. If it's indexed in the regular SERPs, that could be a different story. But even so, I think a US judge would call it nitpicking; they've probably received more profit thanks to Google than they'd care to admit.

8:37 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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review Google's server logs going as far back as 2001

They should deliver them on paper. Well, except for that whole "cut down every tree on earth to make enough paper" part.

9:04 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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So... who's responsible for user uploaded content? The user or the host?

What's been established here is a complete online community. That is to say a collection of people who share videos they've made. Some of them upload copyrighted content.

US Law states that as a copyright holder it is your responsibility to protect your copyright. I think the courts will decide in favor of Google on this one.

Personally, I don't think Google is doing this tongue-in-cheek. Youtube was cleaned up MASSIVELY once Google took over; mostly for content they knew was copyrighted. It's not like Google hasn't made the effort. Since we're looking at a community, it must be treated as one: The host is not responsible for what the users upload, but he is responsible for taking care of it once he's informed of the problem. That's the way the DMCA works, and that's how it should stay.

That and Users who upload copyrighted content should get a few warnings, followed swiftly by a lawsuit.

9:50 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Before all Belgian newspapers and Belgians themselves are brushed together, please note it's only some of the newspapers that are behind copiepresse and co.
9:57 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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US Law states that ...
That's the way the DMCA works ...

Why would the US law apply ? The newspaper are outside of the US, so is Google not just a US company.
Anyway the court that gave the initial ruling was Belgian, and since Google is appealing there's little merit in them trying to get money already. It's just PR spin of the press itself.

Copyright is one of the most international concepts and ruled by the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

9:59 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Google sure is treading on a lot of toes at the moment. I guess if you try to make a copy of the entire internet, as they seem to be attempting, anyone who holds copyright does have a right to complain.

Do you think RIAA would let me have copied music as long as I directed people who listened to it to a nearby record store?

Maybe I could sue - Google took a snippet of my website and displayed it in their search results page!

12:10 am on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I hope Google removes all those newspapers from its index for good. Then we'll see who's begging for traffic. Idiots.
1:42 am on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I hope Google removes all those newspapers from its index for good. Then we'll see who's begging for traffic. Idiots.

Well it's obvious that's going to happen. However, did anyone here read the article?

...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". Webmaster World also has an area of the forum where only paid members can go...they are complaining that Google cached articles that were written for subscribing members. Ultimately they lost money because of Google; I doubt 77.5 million but some money anyway. I still side with Google in that they should have edited their website accordingly to stop Googlebot but I can see why they're angry.

[edited by: StoutFiles at 1:43 am (utc) on May 29, 2008]

2:38 am on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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they should have edited their website accordingly to stop Googlebot but I can see why they're angry.

so if don't put "do not rob" sign at your home door it's ok to come in and take stuff? :)
just putting oil on the fire :)
5:23 am on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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they are complaining that Google cached articles that were written for subscribing members.

Sounds like it's their own web team they should be suing.

12:00 pm on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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For your information : the newspapers who are involved are only the French-language newspapers of belgium. The nordern part of belgium (Flanders = Dutch) don't have problems with Google. Walloons (south part of belgium) are some kind of French ...
1:51 pm on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like it's their own web team they should be suing.

Agrees!
4:16 pm on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like it's their own web team they should be suing.

No kidding. I was under the impression that if you needed a login and password to access subscriber material, then Google couldn't get to it. If you have a bunch of idiots allowing free access somehow, then how is that Google's fault.

Am I under a false assumption that G cannot index login-protected content?

5:08 pm on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I thought it was 69 million?
5:08 pm on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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maybe I had the sheet upside down.
7:37 pm on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Swa66 - Second post was meant for another thread (one about a subject under the exclusive domain of US Law), but I had multiple windows open and got confused, then didn't come back and notice til just now; now I can't edit it :(

Gomen!

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