Google versus Mainstream Media in Belgium

news_nl_be.gifGoogle & the Belgian media are in a legal fight with regards to copyright.

On September 18 a Belgian court ruled that Google is not respecting the copyright of French and German language newspapers in Belgium. The court ruled that Google News is not a search engine but a news portal and as such needs to respect the local copyright rules that apply to mainstream media. You can read the official court document here.

The court was not lenient and ordered Google

"to withdraw the articles, photographs and graphic representations of Belgian publishers of the French - and German-speaking daily press, [...] from all their sites, Google News and "cache" Google or any other name within 10 days of the notification of the intervening order, under penalty of a daily fine of 1,000,000.- € per day of delay".

Today Google reacted quite drastically and simply "deleted" all search results that could lead to the sites of the newspapers in question.

Copyright of traditional newspapers is a very serious topic here in Belgium....

For instance, with regards to media monitoring; a company can hire an agency which will then scan the Belgian press and send the client a PDF document with the article. But the limitation of distribution of this PDF copy is very strict. You couldn't put it in a central database for instance and if you wanted to publish the article on your intranet then you would need to pay a good amount of money, depending on how many people could potentially read the article.

It definitely doesn't help that different publishers across the country (and language communities) have also a different approach to what they consider copyright. Next to that, this ruling and the reaction of Google has an impact on my media monitoring efforts through Google News RSS feed results...

I wonder what these newspapers think about the syndication of their content on other websites through full text RSS feeds ? Would that be considered as infringing their copyright ?

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