Google scrubs Belgian newspapers from Search

The company has done so following its loss in a case against a group of Belgian newspapers over copyright infringement related to Google News.

Google has removed a group of Belgian newspapers from its search results.

On its Web site Friday, Belgium-based publisher Sudpresse, said (Translate page) that the search giant had begun "boycotting" its Web sites, following a May decision by a Belgian appeals court that found the search giant in violation of copyrights with its Google News service.

In 2006, a group of newspapers, called Copiepresse, sued Google, saying the search giant's use of its headlines and snippets in Google News, as well as cached copies of its Web sites in search results, violated copyrights.

Later that year, a Belgian court sided with Copiepresse, saying that Google did, in fact, violate copyrights. Following that, Google removed the newspapers' content from both Google News and its search results. Soon after, the organizations engaged in talks and finally brought back the papers' search results , sans cached content.

After the organizations came to that agreement, the case continued on in Belgian appeals court. After the appeals court in May upheld Copiepresse's victory, Google took action to be in compliance.

Speaking to the Associated Press on Saturday, Google confirmed that it had removed Copiepresse newspapers from its search results, saying that it has done so with "regret." However, the company told the news service that it would bring the newspapers back to its search results if "they would indicate their desire to appear in Google Search and waive potential penalties."

According to the AP, Google said that it would have faced fines of 25,000 euros ($35,125) per infringement if it left the search results in place.

For its part, Sudpresse said that it has no problem with Google including its pages in search results. The company wrote that it simply objects to the search giant including its content in Google News.

In a check by CNET this morning, Sudpresse was still not accessible via Google Search.

However, in an e-mailed statement to CNET today, a Google representative said that the company has received word from Copiepresse that it can include the newspaper sites in search results, and will restore them as soon as possible.

"We are delighted that Copiepresse has given us clearance to re-include their sites in our Google search index," the Google representative told CNET. "We will do this as quickly as possible. We never wanted to take their sites out of our index, but we needed to respect a court order until Copiepresse acted. We remain open to working in collaboration with Copiepresse members in the future."

Updated at 7:00 a.m. PT to include Google's statement.

Update, 12:58 p.m. Google has now restored Copiepresse news sites to its search results.

 

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