Agence France-Presse, Google settle copyright dispute

Google agrees to a licensing deal with the French news agency for posting its headlines and news summaries on Google News.

News agency Agence France-Presse has entered into a licensing deal with Google, ending the dispute between the two over AFP's articles appearing on Google News.

The agreement, announced Friday, allows Google to post AFP content, including news stories and photographs, on its Google News aggregator as well as on other Google services. No further details or financial terms were disclosed by either party.

Paris-based AFP had sued Google in March 2005 for $17.5 million in damages over alleged copyright infringement on Google's news site, claiming that the search giant was posting headlines, photographs and news summaries without permission. With Friday's deal, AFP has agreed to drop the lawsuit.

"Google's use was not a fair use, but since all uses (of AFP content) are now covered by the new agreement, it's a moot point between AFP and Google," said Joshua Kaufman, a lawyer who represents AFP. "We signed a license agreement that will enable them to use AFP's newswire content in all Google services as well as in its new products that are coming up."

Kaufman declined to provide specifics regarding compensation but noted that the agreement is effective immediately. "As far as we know, (AFP content) could be appearing (on Google) as we speak," he said.

Google spokesman Ricardo Reyes emphasized that the Mountain View, Calif.-based company is very optimistic about the new agreement, claiming that it "will enable the use of AFP's newswire content in innovative, new ways that will dramatically improve newswire content on the Internet." Reyes added that the "new collaboration will ensure that AFP's original journalism and breaking news are easily discoverable on Google services and in particular on Google News."

Last August, Google forged a similar agreement with the Associated Press. In that deal, Google agreed to pay the AP for the use of its news and photos, but indicated that the content would not be used for the Google News aggregator. Rather, the AP content would be for use in a Google product that has yet to make its debut.

This yet-to-be-launched product may also tie into Friday's AFP agreement. Kaufman hinted that Google will be coming out with "interesting new projects" that will incorporate the news agency's content, though there is no clear indication that this is the same new Google service that was referenced in the AP deal in August.

Google's copyright woes are not limited to news : its Library Project and accompanying Google Book Search have resulted in widespread controversy in the publishing industry.

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