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BizReport : Law & Regulation : February 14, 2007

Google´s search results violate Belgian copyright laws, Google is fined

A Belgian court has ruled that internet search giant Google violated copyright and data laws by posting bits of news stories and links to Belgian newspapers without permission. The ruling could change the way online search engines post search results.

by Kristina Knight

Because most Belgian papers allow reading of current news but charge for the reading of archived stories, the court also ruled Google violated the country's data-storage law. Google archives all stories, even those for which papers would charge.

Google has been ordered to remove the Belgian content, links and photos from their Google News website. They also fined Google $32,390 for every day the content is not removed. Google says they will appeal the ruling, saying the news service is legal and that they are providing a service for those newspapers by driving traffic to their websites through searches.

The newspapers say that is untrue, that the traffic and revenue generated are to Google's benefit and not their own.

The Belgian court issued a similar ruling in September when it said some searches from search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN infringed on copyright laws.

Google also faces a federal lawsuit in the United States. Agence France Presse is arguing that because Google's search results list headlines, lead sentences and photos, it is infringing on copyright.

Tags: copyright, search, search engines

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