Google backs down, posts Belgian court ruling

Google is now displaying the order that has forced it to remove Belgian publications from its Google News offering.

Google has agreed to post a court order against the company on its Belgian Web site, dodging a potential fine of Euro 500,000 (AUD$848,000) per day for not doing so.

The court order stemmed from a lawsuit filed by a group of Belgian publications that accused Google of infringing their copyrights by posting articles on its Google News Web site without their permission.

The order, issued Sept. 5, required Google to stop posting stories from the Belgian papers. It was also required to post a copy of the court's order on its Web site for five days.

Google removed the stories in mid-September but resisted posting the order, arguing that the dispute had already been widely publicized in the press. On Friday it lost an appeal against the order to post the ruling, the Associated Press reported.

Google didn't immediately return calls seeking comment.

The order now appears at www.Google.be and on the Belgian Google News Web site. The news site now features articles from Dutch and other international news outlets.

Google will appeal the entire ruling at a hearing scheduled for late November, according to the Associated Press story.

Google News includes headlines and brief summaries of news articles. Users click on a story link to be taken to the publication's Web site, where they can read the full article.

This isn't the first time Google has butted heads with the news media. The French news agency Agence France Presse has an ongoing lawsuit that accuses Google of copyright violation for including its stories on Google News without subscribing to the AFP service.

Google has also raised the ire of some book publishers for its Google Book Search offering, which allows visitors to view parts of books online. Groups representing publishers have filed lawsuits arguing that Google must ask for permission before scanning and displaying the contents of the books.

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Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
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