Google News Slapped by Belgian Court

A group of Belgian newspapers on a crusade to remove all their content from news search engines has won a victory against Google, according to a Reuters report.

A Belgian court ruled on Tuesday that Google may not publish in Google News Belgium copyrighted articles from Belgian newspapers managed by Copiepresse, which brought the suit. Copiepresse is also going after Yahoo’s site in France to demand it stop showing its content as well.

Google was ordered to stop showing the articles in September 2006, under threat of a potential 1 million euro per day fine, but appealed the decision, which led to this re-hearing. In November, Google settled with two publishing groups that had been in on the original lawsuit. (That post gives a history of the case, as does this FAQ on the settlement).

Today’s ruling upholds the existing injunction, but reduces the potential fine to 25,000 euros per day. Content owners must also request by e-mail that their content not be indexed. Google has once again appealed the decision.

UPDATE: Google posted about the Copiepresse decision on the Google Blog, calling the judgment “clearly disappointing,” and expressing the intent to appeal.

The post also points out that many publishers are happy to be included in Google News: “Today’s ruling does not affect the current content of Google News, because the websites represented by Copiepresse have already been removed from Google News. In fact, hundreds of news publishers in Belgium and around the world are delighted to be included in Google News because it helps more people find their websites and read their articles. That’s why Google receives far more requests for inclusion than requests for removal.”

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