Google Looses Case on Fair Use Against Online Newspapers
Posted under Creative Commons

Google Belgium Order
The look of google.be this morning. The belgium courts have favored the press association to protect the online newspaper sites against the theft of copy right material by Google. Google news has been found guilty of printing the headline and an extract of news items from belgium online newspapers. The court has deemed said action to be an infringement of the online newspapers copyright terms, concluding it is outside any "fair-use" usage.

The court clearly does not understand that

  • the online newspapers are liberally rewarded with a huge influx of traffic from Google
  • small quotes appearing on Google are great PR and marketing for the newspapers
  • the material published is a very small fraction of the material in each article

The belgium court in question is clearly a copyright and trademark stalwart, not even allowing for a small quotation of the copyright material. Quite the opposite of the creative commons licence models.

It remains to be seen whether the papers are actually advantaged by being excluded from the Google search engine, which dominates European internet traffic. After all the "fair-use terms" of copyright material were designed into the law for the benefit of both authors and the community.


UPDATE 04th October 2006

Rachel Whetstone, European Director of Communications and Public Affairs, blogs an update on the About the Google News case in Belgium, stating that

...if publishers donít want their websites to appear in search results (most do) the robots.txt standard (something that webmasters understand) enables them to prevent automatically the indexing of their content. It's nearly universally accepted and honoured by all reputable search engines.

Rachel deems a court case is unnecessary to settle exclusion from the index, or financial payment for use of newspaper content. The case will be settled on the 24th of November.

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