The short story: a Belgian court has ruled that Google must remove headlines and links posted on its news site for which it did not obtain permission to post, based on copyright law.
Rather unfortunate, I think. Sure, there are cases where some links and even partial reproduction should be prohibited, but in the context of what Google was doing its difficult to see the harm. In fact, I’m a bit surprised that the content owner would have pursued the claim. Google’s take:
“We believe that Google News is entirely legal,” the company said in a statement. “We only ever show the headlines and a few snippets of text and small thumbnail images. If people want to read the entire story they have to click through to the newspaper’s Web site.”
Google said its service actually does newspaper a favor by driving traffic to their sites.
But the court said Google’s innovations don’t get exemptions from Belgian data storage law.
“We confirm that the activities of Google News, the reproduction and publication of headlines as well as short extracts, and the use of Google’s cache, the publicly available data storage of articles and documents, violate the law on authors’ rights,” the ruling said.
If Google News violates authors’ rights, there will be a lot more that does as well. Tons. It will be interesting to see what happens on appeal as it could have rather far-reaching implications – at least in Belgium.