Court to Google: Hands off Belgian newspapers' material

A court has ordered Google to remove from Google News content from German and French newspapers published in Belgium.

A court forced Google on Monday to remove all French and German language newspapers published in Belgium from its Google News search service.

The order comes after an association of local publishers sued the search engine giant successfully for copyright abuse, Google said Monday.

Copiepresse, an organization that helps protect the copyright of some of Belgium's best known newspapers including Le Soir and Le Libre Belgique, sued Google for publishing summaries of the newspapers' stories, along with a link to the newspapers' own sites.

The court warned Google that failure to remove all material from the Belgian newspapers from Google news from Monday would result in daily fines of around US$1 million.

The case was heard on Sept. 5 at the Belgian court of first instance but Google claims to have only found out about the court hearing and its outcome last Friday.

"We were not able to make our case directly to the judge. We are disappointed by the decision, which we believe is flawed and which we intend to appeal," said D.J. Collins, a spokesman for Google based in London.

Reports earlier Monday claimed that articles from the newspapers were still appearing on the Google News search engine, but none were visible in the early afternoon local time. Collins said his company was complying: "We have removed the relevant sources," he said.

Copiepresse wasn't immediately available for comment but in statements to journalists earlier in the day the organization's general secretary Margaret Boribon said legal action against Google was necessary because the company was profiting from the work of the newspapers.

"We are asking for Google to pay and seek our authorization to use our content," Boribon told news agencies including Reuters.

Collins dismissed the case as "entirely unnecessary."

"Google has a clear policy of respecting the wishes of content owners. If a newspaper does not want to be part of Google News we remove their content from our index -- all they have to do is ask. There is no need for legal action and all the associated costs," he said.

Google News benefits publishers, he added, by making it easier for people to find their content and driving large numbers of users to their Web sites. "It is important to remember that we never show more than the headlines and a few snippets of text. If people want to read the entire story they have to click through to the newspapers' Web site," he said.

The case involving the Belgian newspaper publishers is similar to legal action brought against Google by the French national news agency Agence France Presse a year and a half ago.

AFP generates revenue by charging fees to news outlets that subscribe to its wire service. In its complaint, AFP charges Google with copyright violation, alleging that, as a nonsubscriber to AFP, Google has no right to include AFP content in Google News. That case is still ongoing.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Meller

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?