Belgian Newspapers sued Google, won, get delisted as they wanted. Cry about it.

Posted by & filed under Politics, Technology.

Ah yes, the wonderful world of idiotic copyright demands and fantastic example of a wish being granted exactly as it was expressed, bringing the world of hurt on a greedy wisher. A long, long time ago (in 2006, which is as close to “forever” as you can get in the internet time) Copiepresse, representing Belgian newspapers, got very upset by the fact that Google News started to include snippets and photos from their news articles into automatic service. Apparently, they wanted users to go to the newspaper’s homepage, struggle through several intermediary pages (all while looking at banners) before getting to the actual article they were looking for. So, instead of just adding robots.txt/meta tag to avoid materials being accessed by Google bot (and news bot) they decided to go the high way and sued Google for copyright infringement.

And they’ve won! And there was an order (image of the order on that specifically said that Google has to

withdraw from all its sites (Google News and “cached” Google, or under any name whatsoever), all the articles, photographs and graphic representations from the Belgian publishers of the daily French- and German-speaking press, represented by the plaintiff, within 10 days of the present notification, under penalty of a daily fine of 1,000,000.00 EUROS per day of delay;

Emphasis is mine.

Now, since then, there was a bunch of other legal activities, appeals, etc, and in May that victory was upheld by the Appeals court. And, apparently, Google has finally made good per order and removed the content from their servers.

All servers (as per “cached … or under any name whatsoever” part of the order).

As a result certain newspapers magically vanished from search results, news, everything google (you can’t even use Google Translate on their pages). And, apparently, the newspapers didn’t want that.
Well, boo-hoo, I don’t think you can have your cake and eat it too in this case. You demand removal from “all servers” under penalty of thousands of euros (I guess the penalty was lowered during appeal) you got it. No evil Google exploiting your precious copyrighted material whatsoever.

La Libre’s CEO François le Hodey is crying about “brutal retaliation” from Google (sorry, it’s in French). They just wanted to exto…err… earn with their content a bit of money, and certainly Google must understand that this is going a bit too far, and they want their search results back, pretty please, with respect shown to the newspaper publishers. Or to paraphrase, “while you can’t use our intellectual property, and we claim you’re our direct competitor, we do want to be able to use your intellectual property for free (or better yet, you also pay us money)”.

Too bad.

Until they either give full permission to Google to show their content (or another round of rulings from Belgian court) they’ll just have to live in their little world of copyright happiness, without any external users finding them through Google. They got exactly what they asked for in court. Enjoy your win.

20 Responses to “Belgian Newspapers sued Google, won, get delisted as they wanted. Cry about it.”

  1. Shawn

    I agree that would be the best route to go… something like 10,001 euro’s per day for a proposed rate 😀

  2. Clint

    Or perhaps they could pay Google for every visitor that reaches their site from Google’s search engine. That sounds fair.

  3. J. Lockhart

    Well… As a writer myself, snippets and photographs of my blog posts being posted by Google wouldn’t bother me hardly. If a reader is truly interested, he’s going to click the link to read more.

    I understand if an online newspaper would want all the ad revenue that they can get, but since Google wasn’t publishing the entirety of the material… well… why worry? It’s a search engine. It’s supposed to publish a snippet of text or a photo. (But surely not the entire thing – that would be very frustrating, I believe.)

    Google’s banning of the entire Belgian paper? Meh… a little over the top. They made their point. Better to take the high road, in my opinion.

    • Terence

      I’d suggest that if an Appeals court tells you to do something, being what you call ‘a little over the top’ is exactly the right thing to do. It’s got nothing to do with making a point, and everything to do with adhering to a court order.

      On that note, I’m guessing you did read the details of the article above?

      • JCR

        I’m guessing J. Lockhart didn’t read it. Google did exactly what the court order specified. I think it would be best if every company left the decision making on how the internet is used and incorporated at their company to people who were born no earlier than 1975.

        • J. Lockhart

          I read, I read. I also didn’t get the notification that anyone responded to my comment. However, I saw that someone accessed my blog from here. I forgot I even commented here. Phew.

          By all technical means, they did exactly what the court order told them to do. You’re right. So the whole “point” thing is out of the question.

      • J. Lockhart

        Responded below. I read, but I don’t believe I assessed the situation properly. A court order is a court order is a court order.

  4. Lucian

    what goes around, comes around. they deserve every bit of this – if i had any power in google i’d make sure those idiots never get listed anywhere again and kill their revenue for good.


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