Google settles copyright dispute with Belgium newspapers

Publishers had objected to the search giant's use of headlines and snippets of Belgian newspaper articles in its Google News aggregation service

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Google has settled a long-running dispute with Belgian newspaper publishers that accused the search giant of copyright infringement over its practice of linking to French- and German-language Belgian newspapers.

The group, Copiepresse, sued Google in 2006, alleging that the search giant's use of headlines and snippets of Belgian newspaper articles in its Google News aggregation service, and its practice of providing links to cached copies of the articles in its main Web search results, violated copyright. A Belgian court sided with Copiepresse last September, ordering Google to remove the links.

Google complied with the order, but the two parties engaged in talks that 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 2011 upheld Copiepresse's victory, Google removed the content to be in compliance.

Google announced today it had reached an agreement with the group that ends all litigation between the two. The Web said it will partner with the publishers on a range of initiatives to increase their revenue, including paywalls and subscriptions, tapping Google's AdSense platform for site advertising, and collaborating on distribution of content to mobile devices.

However, the Web giant reasserted its position that it had not violated the law.

"We continue to believe that our services respect newspaper copyrights and it is important to note that we are not paying the Belgian publishers or authors to include their content in our services," Google said in a statement.

Although the company claims it did not pay out any money to settle the dispute, PaidContent notes that French newspaper Le Monde claims that the Belgian papers "forced Google to bend" and that Google pay newspapers "around 5 million euros" (about $6.5 million).

CNET has contacted Google for comment and will update this report when we learn more.