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 Belgian Court: Google News violates copyright law

A Belgian court upheld its decision that Google violated the copyright of several Belgian newspapers by posting extracts of their stories on the Google News Web site without their permission. The Brussels Court of First Instance ruled that Google could not call on exemptions, such as claiming "fair use": "Google is reproducing and publishing works protected by copyright," it said. "Google cannot call on any exceptions set out by law relating to copyright or similar rights."

The Brussels court has fined Google 25,000 for each day it displayed links to the Belgian newspapers, represented by plaintiff Copiepresse, a group of 18 French- and German-language publications. The sum is significantly below the original penalty of 1 million euros a day that the court set last September.

Google intends to appeal the ruling.

  • February 14, 2007: Belgian court confirms ruling against Google News, Heise:
    "Google is not allowed to publish in its news section content found in Belgian publications without the permission of the publishers in question; without explicit permission items of this kind must be removed."

  • February 13, 2007: Crampton, Thomas, Google Said to Violate Copyright Laws, New York Times:
    "A Brussels court ruled Tuesday that Google had violated copyright laws by publishing links to articles from Belgian newspapers without permission. Legal experts said the case could have broad implications in Europe for the news indexes provided by search engines."

  • February 13, 2007: Google will appeal Copiepresse decision,
    "Google will appeal today's judgment from a Belgian court that it broke the law when it used newspaper material in Google News. The company will have to stop publishing links to certain newspaper sites having been found liable for copyright infringement."

  • February 13, 2007: Robertson, Struan, Why the Belgian court ruled against Google,
    "EDITORIAL: Every search engine should obtain permission from a website before copying its pages or even snippets of text, according to a ruling by a Belgian court today."

The ruling, in French (44-page / 1.2MB PDF)




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