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Google News Found Guilty of Copyright Violation 223

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the de-index-belgium-in-retaliation dept.
schmiddy writes "A court in Brussels, Belgium, has just found Google guilty of violating copyright law with its Google News aggregator. According to the ruling, Google News' links and brief summaries of news sources violates copyright law. Google will be forced to pay $32,600 for each day it displayed the links of the plaintiffs. Although Google plans to appeal, this ruling could have chilling effects on fair use rights on the web in the rest of Europe as well if other countries follow suit."
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Google News Found Guilty of Copyright Violation

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  • by Bazman (4849) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @10:22AM (#18011084) Journal
    So is this where 'Belgium!' becomes the most obscene word in the cosmos?

    • Im surprised at this ruling. It seems RSS / Atom-feeds has just been made illegal in belgium, or am I missing something?

      The courts should not address issues it has no understanding of. It should consist of younger people for technology-related rulings.

      It doesnt even fit this particular scenario. Google News is almost unreadable already, the snippets they cut from each news source is just a few words, and most often not even complete sentences. It is more of a free advertisement for the News agencies, becaus
  • by Xonstantine (947614) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @10:22AM (#18011090)
    Maybe Google should just delink the sites altogether, that way the offended media organizations can watch their traffic plummet to zero?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by malsdavis (542216)
      I don't some of the top newspapers in Belgium will see their traffic "plummet to zero" because their not listed on google.

      Media organisations are in the unique position that they are able to readily attract hits without using search engines like google as they already have a massive advertising medium - themselves. Have you ever visited a national newspaper webiste by searching for "national newspaper" in google?

      I know I haven't and I bet it is quite rare that people discover their sites that way.
      • by GryMor (88799) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @10:50AM (#18011436)
        No, but I've seen a lot of users go to www.cnn.com by means of entering www.cnn.com in google's search box.
      • by Daemonstar (84116) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @10:52AM (#18011452)
        I know that my mom and wife both use Google as their "address bar". My wife wanted to go somewhere the other day (she had to use my Linux box; I playing around with Vista on the Windows one), and I told her to just type the address in the address bar (it was like JcPenney's or something). She said, "I don't want to type it in the address bar, I just want to type it in Google." Google is the default page on my Win PC. My mom does the same thing; she never uses the address bar. She usually asks, "How do I do that?" when I tell her to just type it in.

        Back when I was employed at an ISP, we had a Google search box on our main page. Whenever our main page was down for updates or screwups, we *always* got calls from users asking when the page would be back up so they could surf the web. They would use the Google search box to get around the Internet instead of using the address bar or using a different search engine.

        It's not far fetched that they will lose traffic if Google doesn't index them in their search results.
        • by malsdavis (542216) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @11:11AM (#18011678)
          This would work both ways though. People only use Google as their address bar because they are pretty certain the website will come up. National newspapers and other mainstream media websites are normally some of the highest traffic websites (in terms of unique hits) on the internet for any specific country, therefor by not linking to the media websites Google would also be doing themselves quite a lot of harm.

          If people typed in searches like 'www.nytimes.com', 'www.cnn.com', 'www.bbc.co.uk' into google and it didn't mention the respective websites then a lot of people would probably start switching their homepage away from Google.

          I therefore doubt Google will consider de-listing mainstream newspaper websites. It would give Google an immense commercial disadvantage to their rivals!
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by walt-sjc (145127)
            I therefore doubt Google will consider de-listing mainstream newspaper websites. It would give Google an immense commercial disadvantage to their rivals!

            Yes, but if these rulings stand (through the appeal process,) you can bet that EVERY news aggregator / search engine will ALSO have to remove content / links to the pages, therefore no competitive disadvantage.

            Without news aggregaters, there will be no way for major media sites to attract NEW customers / readers, and non-ahole media sites will end up with l
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by malsdavis (542216)
              When I said about a commercial disadvantage I meant towards other search engines, portals and start pages; not News Aggregation websites.

              For example if typing 'CNN' (and all the others) into Windows Live Search brings up the CNN website but Google brings up nothing (because google have de-listed CNN after refusing to let google aggregate their news) then Google certainly will have a commercial disadvantage to Windows Live Search and others. After a while people will stop using Google as their start page or
              • by walt-sjc (145127)
                If widows live provides summaries to news content, and they DO, then they have the exact same problem Google has.

                When people are interested in a certain current event or other topic, they don't go to many different individual sites to find that content, they either go to a single news site or search for it on a search engine. If search engines are not allowed to display a short summary of the page, then you will end up with results like: "Cnn matches, NYT matches" which is USELESS. You need the snipit / sum
                • by malsdavis (542216)
                  For the last time: I am not talking about news summaries!!!

                  Are you even reading the posts you are replying to?

                  The original post referred to possible Google reciprocal action of completely de-listing the websites from their search engine.

                  The rest of your post doesn't even make sense.
                  • by walt-sjc (145127)
                    Yes I am reading your posts, but you are perhaps not reading mine.

                    This news article is all about the content of news sites on google - not whether you type in "cnn" and google returning the CNN home page URL. That is a pointless and mostly useless search, and discussion about it has NOTHING to do with what is going on. If google delists, they will most likely remove content oriented results so that if you search for CNN you get cnn, but if you search for "iraq" you won't get any results that point to articl
                    • by malsdavis (542216)
                      "This news article is all about the content of news sites on google - not whether you type in "cnn" and google returning the CNN home page URL. That is a pointless and mostly useless search, and discussion about it has NOTHING to do with what is going on"

                      It has everything to do with searches for "cnn". If you had read the previous posts you would see that the entire focus of this thread is people using google as an address bar and start page, not people searching for "Iraq" or whatever.
                    • by walt-sjc (145127)
                      And the next sentence in my post that you didn't quote addresses this. Now you are just trolling.
              • For example if typing 'CNN' (and all the others) into Windows Live Search brings up the CNN website but Google brings up nothing (because google have de-listed CNN after refusing to let google aggregate their news) then Google certainly will have a commercial disadvantage to Windows Live Search and others.

                What if instead of bringing up nothing, Google brings up pages on Wikipedia and Chilling Effects Clearinghouse first and CNN's front page (not a specific section or story) below those but still on the first results page?

            • Yes, but if these rulings stand (through the appeal process,) you can bet that EVERY news aggregator / search engine will ALSO have to remove content / links to the pages, therefore no competitive disadvantage.

              The thing Google is being told not to do is cache content or do deep linking. The thing every pro-Google "Fight teh man" Slashhead is demanding is Google remove links to the newspapers completely.

              If people are just trying to find a newspaper's home page, then Google removing their ability to do t

          • by Fordiman (689627)
            In reply to your sig: I'm not criticizing, but who's in favor of chopping down the Amazon to make biofuels? You can't make biodiesel from wood, to my recollection, and corn makes much better feedstock for TCP. In fact, if there's a good way to make cellulose into a fuel, bamboo would be a much cheaper way to go; just plant stands of it in place of all the condemned housing in the inner cities.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I know I haven't and I bet it is quite rare that people discover their sites that way.

        In my experience, you'd be betting wrong. Since browsers started autosearching "i'm feeling lucky" google results*, people have indeed been just typing in e.g. "Irish Times" and indeed relying on google to get them to the relevant site, at least here in europe.

        (* firefox is at least 20% of european browsers (source: Xiti), though it's lower worldwide).

        Personally, I oppose copyright laws full stop, and I'm all for european
        • by caseih (160668)
          Well maybe in retribution to Belgium for their extreme copyright position, rather than delist things, they could just make sure this [zapatopi.net] site is ranked up near number one for any searches with Belgium in the terms.
      • I don't some of the top newspapers in Belgium will see their traffic "plummet to zero" because their not listed on google.
        If that an example of how their wrote, I'm surpressed the have any traffic too start with.
      • by Fordiman (689627)
        They do lose out on traffic from people searching for specific topics, though. I do believe that would be a good-sized chunk.

        God DAMN it, what do I gotta do to get rid of the one minute 'Slow Down Cowboy' limit here? It's just annoying, especially when I've got something topical to say.
    • by Bill Dimm (463823) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @10:51AM (#18011438) Homepage
      Maybe Google should just delink the sites altogether, that way the offended media organizations can watch their traffic plummet to zero?

      From the article:

      Google carries advertising on its general Belgian site, Google.be, but not in its news index. Links to the publications represented by Copiepresse have already been removed from both.
    • by Greyfox (87712)
      Redirect be.google.com to lycos.com in their dns. There are just going to be some countries that they can't do business in and I'm sure the citizens of those countries will be just as happy to use some other search engine.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by walt-sjc (145127)
        Lycos will end up getting sued too - it's not just google. Google is just the largest target at the moment.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @10:27AM (#18011150)
    I'm not sure how much aggregation Google news does, but I'd think if they're copying in less than 10% or so of the story and providing a link to the original they'd be safely in the "fair use" arena.

    I suspect this has more with newspapers getting annoyed that people are starting to type in "[MyCity] news" in Google more often than looking up their local newspaper's web site. The newspapers also would like to restrict access to their "archives" (which they regard as a pay-to-see resource).

    • by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @10:58AM (#18011530) Homepage
      Fair use is a US concept. The 10% if it exists is probably a US thing as well. In the UK it's 5%, and only a single article. In belgium it's probably something different.

      Google news is unashamedly breaking copyright.. there's no argument there - the real question is why anyone would prosecute over something that's driving hits to their page and generating ad revenue?
      • Google news is unashamedly breaking copyright.. there's no argument there - the real question is why anyone would prosecute over something that's driving hits to their page and generating ad revenue?
        For control. The sense of losing control scares them so much, they instinctively react. They figure that once they have everything in hand, they can then arrive at whatever arrangements they want (possibly similar ones to the status quo until a few days ago).
      • by neoform (551705)
        Are you sure it's based solely on percentage? (this could be a problem for my site newsique.com) Since I've encountered many articles on various news sites that have articles that are less than 400 characters long. Sometimes only 2 or 3 sentences.. (eg. breaking news of someone's death)..

        what then? can you not quote from a story that's so short since you would then be exceeding the 10% or 5% rules.. ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tom (822)

      but I'd think if they're copying in less than 10% or so of t
      *beep* comprehension error. Please re-read article. Please note especially the word "Belgium". Please repeat the states of the USA and check if "Belgium" is on that list. If not, remove reference to USA copyright law from argument before continuing.
    • by jrumney (197329)

      The newspapers also would like to restrict access to their "archives" (which they regard as a pay-to-see resource).

      They can restrict access to their archives all they like now. I think what they're really scared of is that Google provides an easy way to find other news sources with the same story, that do not charge for access to their archive. What they are trying to do here is make Google less useful for searching for news stories, in an attempt to get back their captive audience.

  • Slashdot said $1250/day yesterday and $32,600/day today. Will hate to see how much they loose a day for copyright violations in about a week!
    • by emag (4640)
      The $1295/day yesterday is for ongoing fines, the $32,600/day is apparently retroactive fines, according to the article linked in yesterday's story. Said story also mentions an ealier judgement had the retroactive fines at $1,300,000/day...
  • by aepervius (535155) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @10:28AM (#18011170)
    1) make any sort of "news alike" copyrighted content. Does not matter quality as long as there is quantity.
    2) MAKE SURE that my robot.txt allow google.fr to index
    3) wait
    4) leave the content at the same place but put a password
    5) sue google.fr for copyright infringement.
    6) profit


    Strange, I think I forgot the ?? step somewhere...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @11:10AM (#18011666)
      slashdot: Belgium
      aepervius: google.fr

      I'm guessing you're one of the 75% of Yanks who thinks "passport" is a request to share fortified wine, right?

      Clue: google.be [google.be] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgium [wikipedia.org]

      Differences between France and Belgium:
      * Most Belgians speak Dutch, not French.
      * In Belgium's extremely long varied history of occupation, the French occupied it for less than 25 years.
      * Belgium still has a King. France killed all of theirs more than two hundred years ago.
      * Belgium is NOT famous for good food. Trust me on this one. Typical menu: Ham and cheese with fries. Cheese fries with ham. Ham and fries with cheese. Pick any combination of the three. The fries are more like British "chips" except they are fried twice to make them crispier.
      • by loconet (415875) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @01:54PM (#18014006) Homepage
        "Belgium is NOT famous for good food. Trust me on this one"

        I won't trust you. As a matter a fact, you are straight out lying. I am married to a Belgian woman, and been to Belgium several times, and I can tell you from personal experience that they do have excellent food beyond "Ham and fries with cheese". Most of the food I tried was French influenced, cooked with a lot of wine, red and white meats, sea food, etc. Delicious stuff. I don't think one has to even mention their world renown deserts (chocolate, waffles) and beers.

        That history of occupation you mentioned influenced Belgian cuisine a lot. It has allowed it to offer a magnificent mix of tastes from that part of Europe while still keeping a Belgian signature on the dishes. If there is one thing Belgians know how to do, it is eat and drink. Belgium cuisine may not be the most famous in the world but it is not something to sniff at, it is quiet good.
  • hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TinBromide (921574) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @10:29AM (#18011186)
    Sounds like they're biting the hand that feeds them. There was a rush of articles a while back where web analysts were blaming google for being a sort of web vampire/leech, sucking the blood out of websites without providing anything back. Those claims have quited because businesses realized that when they changed their model to accommodate the search centric interweb, times were good.

    You leave google, google leaves you. Buh-bye, thank-you for flying the interweb air, we hope you enjoyed your time on interweb and also hope to see you again soon.
  • IP Rights. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @10:31AM (#18011218) Homepage Journal
    Are going to destroy the world as we know it. ( well, that and the lawyers ).

    Its more insidious then any terrorist group, or rouge nation.
    • [IP Rights] Are going to destroy the world as we know it. ( well, that and the lawyers ).

      Its more insidious then any terrorist group, or rouge nation.

      Well, "rouge" [google.com] states [wikipedia.org] do tend to be more obsessed with IP rights.

      Lawyers, unfortunately, are pretty much omnipresent.

    • "Its more insidious then any terrorist group, or rouge nation."

      Even the mauve, taupe, and paisley ones?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Hognoxious (631665)

        Even the mauve, taupe, and paisley ones?
        Paisley's a pattern, not a colour, but you could argue that it's synonymous with ORANGE!!! [wikipedia.org].
    • Yes, you have to really watch out for those rouge nations. You never know what those people with the bright red cheeks are going to do next. I mean, they put colored stuff on their faces! What kind of insane bizarro thing is that?

    • Grrrr...

      But it did make it pretty funny :)
  • by gravesb (967413) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @10:40AM (#18011336) Homepage
    This reminds me of when France was going to force Apple to open iTunes, and Apple said fine, we'll leave. Or when the EU took on Microsoft. Once companies get to be a certain size, its really difficult for countries to control them, especially when the controls will end up hurting their corporate citizens, as in this case. When Google stops linking to their newpapers, the newspapers will feel the pain, not Google. Especially since all of Google's competitors will have to play by the same rules, and can't provide unique content. If the governments were right in these cases, and could take the moral highground, then they might stand a chance of winning. However, by continuing to fight huge tech companies in these areas, where they can't win, they stand to lose the power to fight when it really matters. Also, in each case, there were other ways of dealing with the problem. Don't like MS bundling? Move the government to Linux, save money, and encourage your population to do the same. Don't like iTunes and the way Fairplay is locked down? Start a competitor, or encourage the labels to stop their love affair with DRM. Don't like Google lnking to news stories? Update your robot.txt to prevent cache's and Google indexing your site to begin with. Of course, they know they can't do that. They want to come up on Google searches, but not have Google index their content as well. Would you like to have that cake you just ate, anyone?
    • by Tom (822)

      This reminds me of when France was going to force Apple to open iTunes, and Apple said fine, we'll leave. Or when the EU took on Microsoft.

      On this planet, MS didn't leave the EU, nor did they any other muscle flexing. On planet slashdot, a few people talked about the "we're a big american company, we can do what we want, if the commie europeans don't want us, we'll just leave" approach, but were generally ridiculed.

      Large corporations are especially easy to control, because they've got so much to loose. Back when Google was a startup without assets in every other corner of the world, they were much more difficult to get for local courts.

      • by gravesb (967413)
        No, but they completely ignored the intent of the court's ruling, then embarressed the EU by showing consumers didn't buy any of the unbundled Windows. So who really won the real victory?
        • by Tom (822)

          So who really won the real victory?
          I'm not quite sure. Who paid half a billion in fines? The EU or MS?
          • by gravesb (967413)
            Winning is who is shaping the market place, not who paid the fine. The EU was trying to provide consumer choice by preventing MS from bundling a media player. If you examine the marketplace now, does MS continue to have a competitive advantage in the media player market based on bundling? Yes, they do. Do the advantages they have received exceed the fines? I would assume so, but that's something that you need MS internal records to determine. However, their continued conduct suggests that it was. So,
            • by Tom (822)

              Winning is who is shaping the market place, not who paid the fine
              That definition of winning only works if all participants are playing in the same market. Google, the EU competition office and a court of law don't exactly do that, do they?

              I agree that the choice of media players hasn't happened. However, I very much doubt (and hope!) that courts don't think in terms of "winning" and "losing".
              • by gravesb (967413)
                The laws the are enforcing are passed with certain policy goals in mind. If there verdicts don't advance those policy goals, then they have lost. The EU failed in trying to create a free and open market for media players through the court system. It ended up being a waste of tax payer's time, although maybe not money because of the verdict. However, there were other ways to achieve the goal that were not used because the EU relied on the courts, and now they are no better off than when they started.
  • by jpellino (202698) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @10:59AM (#18011532)
    .. to title this story "Brussels Sprouts Stink"

  • robots.txt (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GuyverDH (232921) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @11:12AM (#18011704)
    If they don't want to be scanned by google, create the file.
    If they do want to be scanned (and therefore indexed as well as cached) then don't.

    Although, I for one, would prefer that we would have to *create* the file, and add entries that could say:
    Scan=Yes
    Index=Yes
    Cache=No

    If no robots.txt file is found, then do nothing for the site.
  • by sd_diamond (839492) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @11:21AM (#18011806) Homepage

    Google will be forced to pay $32,600 for each day it displayed the links of the plaintiffs.



    FROM: Eric Schmidt



    TO: All Google Employees



    Beginning today, employees will no longer be eligible for free Kona coffee and hourly massages. We apologize for the inconvenience.

  • Google is run by a lot of really bright people. It would be seemingly trivial for them to develop a natural language parsing engine that would "rewrite" the introduction or summary for linked stories. Perhaps even condense them so that a realistic summary will fit in the few lines provided for each story on google news. After all, copyright law is only violated when something is copied verbatim; if it is rewritten, then no actual copying takes place. You may run into some issues regarding the thumbnailed im
    • by Nasarius (593729)
      Have you studied computational linguistics at all? It is far from trivial to summarize arbitrary text accurately.
      • by petsounds (593538)
        All they have to do is run the text through their English -> Arabic translator and then back to English. (for some reason the Arabic translator does a better job of keeping the general meaning of the original phrase better than their other language translators)
        That will be enough to make the story partially readable, but moderately different.

        For instance I put in a current headline: "US Troops Raid Shiite Areas of Baghdad"

        And got back: "American forces raid Shiite areas of Baghdad"

        Of course, it's not alw

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