A 2006 Belgian case that found Google in breach of copyright law for indexing newspaper headlines and snippets without permission is now on appeal and approaching conclusion a little over four years later.
Google, the owner of the world's most-used search engine, must pay 25,000 euros ($32,500) a day until it removes all Belgian news content, the Brussels Court of First Instance ruled. There's "no exception" for Google in copyright law, the court said. The Mountain View, California-based company said it has already removed the content and will appeal the ruling.
The case may restrict how Internet sites in Europe link to newspaper content. Copiepresse, a group representing French- and German-language newspapers including La Libre Belgique and Le Soir, had sued Google for copyright infringement. The journals lose advertising revenue when Google uses snippets of articles and links directly to stories, bypassing ads on their Web sites, said Bruno Vandermeulen, a Brussels-based lawyer at Bird & Bird.
"It could definitely lead to more lawsuits,'' Vandermeulen, an intellectual property specialist, said in an interview. "I can perfectly imagine that other lawsuits will be filed against other content providers, such as YouTube,'' Google's video service.
Google will have to pay an additional 1,000 euros a day to other copyright groups, including SAJ, which represents journalists, if it fails to remove their content from its sites, the court ruled.
Yoram Elkaim, a lawyer for Google, said in Brussels that the company was waiting for further clarification from the court about the fines.