The French and German-language Belgian newspaper consortium that successfully sued Google for copyright infringement got a surprise from Google as "Google on Friday blocked several Belgian newspapers' content not only from Google News (as desired) but from the entire Google search index." To which, the newspapers are now crying foul, saying that Google is "retaliating" against them for their legal victory in May this year, over a copyright infringement lawsuit.
Google said an order issued in the case required it to exclude the newspapers' websites.
Copiepresse sued Google in 2006 for copyright infringement, claiming that links to newspaper stories in Google News were hurting publisher traffic and ad revenues.
The papers now say they only wanted their content removed from Google News -- not the Google search index entirely.
Google spokesman William Echikson said the court decision applied to web search as well as Google News and the company faced fines of 25,000 euros ($35,359 per infringement if it allowed the newspapers' websites to keep appearing.
"We regret having to do so," he said. "We would be happy to re-include Copiepresse if they would indicate their desire to appear in Google Search and waive the potential penalties."
An article Friday on the web site of one of the newspapers, La Libre, took issue with Google's interpretation.
"It is necessary to distinguish the Google search engine from the Google news service," the article said. "The news editors don't oppose having their content referenced by the Google search engine, they refuse on the other hand for their informational content to be included in Google News," the article said.