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Belgian Newspapers Delisted On Google 385

Posted by timothy
from the you-will-not-be-assimilated dept.
D H NG writes "After being ordered by the Belgian courts to 'remove from its Google.be and Google.com sites, and in particular, cached links visible on Google Web and the Google News service, all articles, photographs and graphics of daily newspapers published in French and German by Belgian publishers,' Google had removed all traces of the newspapers in question from all its search services. The newspapers, however, are crying foul, and alleged that it was done in retaliation for being sued for copyright violations."
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Belgian Newspapers Delisted On Google

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:06AM (#36783712)

    What are you gonna do about it?

    (Google does support a noarchive robots extension tag, so instead of suing Google, you could have had just the search results without content by simply adjusting your server output.)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 16, 2011 @05:33AM (#36784088)

      All these companies and sites that get all pissy with google over stupid stuff...

      First thing google should do in any case of complaints or being sued is to strip ALL refrences to the offending site/company from their index.

      "We feel the only contact we should have with $org$ is thru our lawyers."

      As a google investor i like this idea.

      • by Weezul (52464) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @07:03AM (#36784428)

        I'm happy that Google takes the high road more often than not.

        In this case, Google has done exactly what the court ordered, well according to this English translation :

        Order the defendant to withdraw the articles, photographs and graphic representations of Belgian publishers of the French - and German-speaking daily press, represented by the plaintiff, from all their sites (Google News and "cache" Google or any other name within 10 days of the notification of the intervening order, under penalty of a daily fine of 1,000,000 per day of delay

        If the court had issued a more detailed order, like banning Google News only but granting Google web search a fair use exemption, then I'm sure Google would've followed that order instead.

        If the court had merely banned Google from displaying the pictures and text snippets, but explicitly permitted them to use the titles, then Google would likely still show the results in Google News, but ranked very lowly. Search results should obviously not be cluttered up by stupid links without summaries.

        I'd guess the paper's layer obtained this strong language thinking they'd negotiate some licensing deal with google. Yet first, google must obviously implement the literal court order as written. duh! Second, any licensing deal is unlikely to benefit the papers much because the papers depend more upon google than google depends upon them. Why should google buy their text snippets when other good Belgian papers give text snippets about the same subject matter for free?

        • by Weezul (52464) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @07:26AM (#36784522)

          Oops, there are two court orders here, one from yesterday and one from 2006.

          If the current court explicitly order covers Google Index, well that's the second time the papers pulled this stunt this stupidly, which is just give the French more ammo for their Belgian jokes (hint : the French always joke about Belgians being stupid).

          If the current court order only explicitly covers Google News, unlike the last court order, then Google is simply covering their ass by removing the content from Google Index too. Imho, that's the correct response until the courts have explicitly okayed some links.

          In the long run, Google Index obviously generates it's news results using Google News, meaning a news site not indexed by Google News will never make the Google Index front page anyways. So the papers will never see any traffic even after the court okays Google Index.

    • by icebraining (1313345) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @05:52AM (#36784150) Homepage

      More: the Google News bot has a different User-Agent, so you can block it without blocking the search engine crawler.

      http://www.google.com/support/news_pub/bin/answer.py?answer=93977 [google.com]

    • by eulernet (1132389) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:12AM (#36785124)

      Here is the business plan of these newspapers:

      1) Sue Google
      2) Win , but be delisted
      3) Wait for Bing to pay a license fee for their content
      4) Profit !

      Bing will easily attract the million of viewers that Google was providing.

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:07AM (#36783714) Homepage

    Help me out:

    1) "After being ordered by the Belgian courts to 'remove from its Google.be and Google.com sites, and in particular, cached links visible on Google Web and the Google News service, all articles, photographs and graphics of daily newspapers published in French and German by Belgian publishers,'

    2) Google had removed all traces of the newspapers in question from all its search services.

    #2 is the exact thing the court ordered in #1, right?

    So why, O, why, are the publishers whining in #3:

    3) The newspapers, however, are crying foul, and alleged that it was done in retaliation for being sued for copyright violations."

    • Money (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xkuehn (2202854) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:12AM (#36783734)

      If Google doesn't remove them from its searches, they demand money on the basis of ridiculous copyright claims.

      If Google does remove them, they demand money on the basis of Google abusing its monopoly to punish them.

      I know it doesn't make sense if you're sane, but that's how these sorts of people reason.

      • Re:Money (Score:5, Informative)

        by RsG (809189) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:47AM (#36783920)

        Okay, this is partly a case of a poorly written summary. From reading the second article, here's the short version.

        A number of newspapers in Belgium won a suit against Google for putting their papers in Google News. The judge in the case ordered Google to remove the sites. Rather than just removing the sites from their news aggregator, they also delisted them from their search engine.

        Depending on how much slack you want to give Google, this is either a case of the judge's order being over broad or Google deliberately implementing it in an over broad fashion in order to make a point. I tend toward the latter interpretation; they are not so subtly reminding the papers that they need Google more than Google needs their content.

        Now the newspapers are crying foul. They do want to get listed in search results when someone goes looking for them, but don't want to be "plagiarized" (their interpretation, not mine) by Google News.

        • Re:Money (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:54AM (#36783952)

          If you read the link pointing to the actual judge's order. You see:
          - Order the defendant to withdraw the articles, photographs and graphic representations of Belgian publishers of the French - and German-speaking daily press, represented by the plaintiff, from all their sites (Google News and "cache" Google or any other name) within 10 days of the notification of the intervening order, under penalty of a daily fine of
          1,000,000.- ? per day of delay;

          What don't you understand with "from all their sites". Then in the clarification between brackets it says again: "or any other name".

          • by djl4570 (801529)

            ...from all their sites (Google News and "cache" Google or any other name) ...

            Heh. Be careful what you ask for. You might get it. Also sounds like the Judge is wearing his ass for a hat but that's so common it isn't newsworthy.

            • Re:Money (Score:5, Informative)

              by snowgirl (978879) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @05:56AM (#36784164) Journal

              ...from all their sites (Google News and "cache" Google or any other name) ...

              Heh. Be careful what you ask for. You might get it. Also sounds like the Judge is wearing his ass for a hat but that's so common it isn't newsworthy.

              I'm not sure how this works in Belgium, but in the US, the moving party typically writes the order themselves, and the judge just signs off. So, it's entirely likely that the Belgian Newspapers screwed themselves by trying to ensure that there weren't loopholes to their order.

        • Re:Money (Score:5, Interesting)

          by telekon (185072) <canweriotnow@gmail . c om> on Saturday July 16, 2011 @06:04AM (#36784192) Homepage Journal

          As much as Google seems like practically a public utility, it is a publicly-traded corporation allowed to protect its own interests and has a fiduciary responsibility to act in what its directors feel is the best interest fo its shareholders.

          That means if Larry and Sergei feel that shareholder interests are best protected by de-listing any site that marginally fucks with Google in ANY WAY WHATSOEVER, (i.e., frivolous lawsuits in indulgent Belgian court systems), guess what? Goodbye Belgian papers.

          TL;DR: Don't fuck with Google. You won't like their 'remedy.'

          "Don't be evil" is a mission statement with a broad interpretation.

          • by Targon (17348)

            When it comes to the search engine, it may be very difficult to code it to comply with the court order and also allow for the mention of said paper. The whole cache system for example may not be coded to "exclude from cache these specific pages", so it is either to filter out ALL those Belgian papers completely, or end up not in compliance with the court order.

            Search tends to be an "inclusive" thing where you have to be very selective to exclude content....how do you exclude the content of papers while l

            • Exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Weezul (52464) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @08:18AM (#36784792)

              Any papers could exclude exactly the content they want excluded from exactly the google sites they want it excluded because Google's news indexer has a separate user agent [google.com].

              If they get an injunction however, then Google must obviously read the injunction as broadly as possible to avoid fines.

          • by KDR_11k (778916)

            If that was just retaliation they could've done it at the start of the lawsuit. Instead they did it once the courts told them to remove stuff. Maybe they did more than asked but it's believable that they would just erase as much as possible to make sure they aren't accidentally violating any part of the court order. I mean, who's to say they wouldn't flip over the small excerpts shown in the regular search results or something?

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:15AM (#36783748) Homepage Journal

      they didn't want to get automatically syndicated to google's news portals. so they asked to be removed from that auto syndication, which probably was giving them headaches as they didn't have copyrights to allow for such. so now what google did was to remove them totally from google services. it's just one example why you should keep a search service separate from auto generated portals. or just reform copyright and get out of the mess.
       
        but i'd imagine for example if they license a story from reuters or whatever, they're only licensing it for their own use and not for re-licensing - which would be needed to auto syndicate it to google news site.

        this is only sort of fair, you see, building a service like google news isn't hard at all - what's hard is letting the content providers let you do it.

      • I think the publications in question thought that the Google News syndication was taking hits away from their own websites. That people were reading "their" articles on GN, without visiting the newspapers' own sites and benefiting from the advertising on them. So they were losing revenue from reduced numbers of visitors. Just how they would deal with the subsequent issue of people reading the articles from Google's cached content is debatable - but the same principle may apply there, too.

        Whether this act

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by wvmarle (1070040)

          Without Google websites have nothing.

          And that statement in itself shows the severity of the current situation on the Internet. And how much power is in the hands of a foreign, private, and fully unaccountable organisation.

          • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @06:38AM (#36784302)

            a foreign, private, and fully unaccountable organisation.

            Man, you're fond of that phrase. It's at least the second post you've used it verbatim in. Let's have a look at it.

            "Foreign": Not to me, they're not. And everybody's foreign to somebody.

            "Private": Which means they don't have the right to extract money and obedience by force. Oooh, evil.

            "Unaccountable": On the contrary, they're very accountable--to the people who do searches. If they compromise their ability to serve up accurate, comprehensive and useful searches, people will go elsewhere. They're not accountable at all to the sites being searched, and a damn good thing, too.

          • by Teancum (67324)

            There is nothing stopping you from creating a search engine of your own and implementing policies which would be more to your liking. I've had webpage crawling assignments as a undergraduate CS assignment. It isn't all that complicated.

            The trick is to get something which can handle the billions of hits per day like Google and to be able to set up the logic so you don't have people gaming whatever system you are doing. They've built a better mousetrap and lots of people are using it. I used many other we

        • by KDR_11k (778916) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @07:20AM (#36784482)

          Also Google News could only steal their readers if the newspapers actually had stories that couldn't be found on other publications. If they're just copy-pasting AP/AFP/whatever articles they're getting crushed on the internet either way.

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:41AM (#36783896)

        but i'd imagine for example if they license a story from reuters or whatever, they're only licensing it for their own use and not for re-licensing - which would be needed to auto syndicate it to google news site.

        Google never has "auto-syndicated" anything from the news websites it aggregates on google news. At most it thumbnails images, pulls headlines and lead sentences. Every full-content article you find hosted on news.google.com itself was licensed from the newswires by google themselves.

        • by afidel (530433) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:50AM (#36783928)
          In addition googlebot follows noindex and nocache in robots.txt so if they don't want their content to be included that's their choice without involving lawyers. Heck, if they want it indexed but no summaries to show up (and thus exclude the results from the news feed I assume) they could use the nonstandard nosnippet tag that googlebot will follow.
      • by jamesh (87723)

        they didn't want to get automatically syndicated to google's news portals. so they asked to be removed from that auto syndication, which probably was giving them headaches as they didn't have copyrights to allow for such. so now what google did was to remove them totally from google services. it's just one example why you should keep a search service separate from auto generated portals. or just reform copyright and get out of the mess.

        Could they not have solved this problem with robots.txt? I'm guessing there must be a technical reason why not, but if re-licensing of the content was a problem maybe the smarter thing to do would have been to tap google on the shoulder and say "we have a problem with you 'republishing' some of the content on our site because we don't have a license for us to allow you to do that. Can we work out a robots.txt-like solution?". I assume it was the lawyers idea just to take it to court...

      • by telekon (185072)
        Now you're thinking with portals.
      • by Tridus (79566) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @08:10AM (#36784752) Homepage

        So why didn't they just have their web servers issue a 403 Forbidden when the Google news bot shows up? It's not like it's hard to detect, since it calls itself the Google news bot.

        Hey look at that, problem solved without lawyers and asshattery. I guess that made far too much sense for the MBAs.

    • Apparently they are retarded and didn't realize that removing themselves from Googles cache entirely involved removing themselves from search period.

      The caching service is directly tied into the search service. If they had instead just gone after Google News they would have been fine. Their over-reaching law suit, probably in an attempt to garner more damages, has put them into their current predicament. They have no one to blame but themselves.

    • by ffflala (793437)

      An article Friday on the web site of one of the newspapers, La Libre, took issue with Google's interpretation.
      "It is necessary to distinguish the Google search engine from the Google news service," the article said. "The news editors do not oppose having their content referenced by the Google search engine, they refuse on the other hand for their informational content to be included in Google News," the article said.

      It seems as if the newspapers wish to impose their own, limited understanding of a service they use on the way a company does business. Based on that statement, it's difficult to determine exactly what the arrogance -to- ignorance ratio behind this litigation has been.

  • Uh, tough? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _Shad0w_ (127912) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:07AM (#36783716)

    I think the correct response is "tough". Google have no obligation to include your site in their search results and if you start fucking around claiming copyright violation then the easiest way for Google to deal with it is to remove any trace of your sites entirely.

    Welcome to the unintended consequences of your actions. Next time think about what you're doing a little harder.

    • Re:Uh, tough? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cyberthanasis12 (926691) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:40AM (#36783892)

      Welcome to the unintended consequences of your actions. Next time think about what you're doing a little harder.

      What unintended? That's what they asked for, that's what they got. I am all for EU, I am European myself, but for once an American company did exactly what the court ordered. And now we complain?

    • You don't get to tell a search provider how they are supposed to use the content they index from you. I am ok with the idea that you should be able to tell them not to index you, if you don't want that done, but if you choose to be indexed you don't get to say "You can only do it in the way we specify, or using the terms we specify."

      They demanded Google remove their shit, Google complied completely.

      Also, when it comes to legal threats as were involved here, what choice does Google really have? The letter of

  • by Liam Pomfret (1737150) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:10AM (#36783724)
    Sounds to me like that court order pretty much required Google to do what they did. I assume the newspapers simply didn't realise exactly what it was they were really asking for when they made that attack, and I'm sure their competitors are loving them for it right now.
    • Sounds to me like that court order pretty much required Google to do what they did. I assume the newspapers simply didn't realise exactly what it was they were really asking for when they made that attack, and I'm sure their competitors are loving them for it right now.

      Or maybe they just realise that by jumping up and down and screaming they can get more news coverage and hopefully get more people to hear about them. Is this big news in Belgian? Are people buying the papers to see what all the fuss is about?

  • They claim that links to their sites are illegal and sue to have them removed -- soo now they're removed.

    Google doesn't want to have to deal with another lawsuit over whether this link or that link is illegal. Nor are they going to spend extra money trying to be nice to somebody who used a blunderbuss lawsuit against them.

    All of the links that they want removed are removed. Job done. The rest is just Google being very, very thorough.

    It's kinda like a kid pissing on a wasps nest and complaining that the wasps didn't just quietly wait to drown. He'll be holding his breath a long time waiting for me to feel sorry for him -- or stop laughing, for that matter.

  • by Dahamma (304068) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:21AM (#36783772)

    So they thought that "pay us for using our content" meant "now you have to use our content and then pay us". Oops, maybe not!

    It does sound like a particularly (French-)Belgian idea, though. Next we'll hear they are parking tractors on the Information Superhighway in protest...

  • By far the most common of the three languages in Belgium is Dutch.

    The German-speaking community in Belgium is tiny by comparison.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Possibly the Dutch speaking half is the smart half?

      Oh, wait a moment... that would imply there are smart Belgians... then how about all those Belgian jokes we always tell in The Netherlands?

  • One would think that a country already so thoroughly invisible on the international stage would do whatever possible to promote visibility. Nice work, Belgian media. You've actually managed to erase yourselves from search.

  • One could argue that Google went beyond the court order to a punitive extreme. But remember how Google works: it associates phrases and sentences with websites, and returns snippets of text along with the search results. I'd argue that their search engine *can't work* without storing at least fragmentary pieces of the newspapers' content, and they have no way of knowing whether a court will consider those fragments large enough to be a copyright violation. So nuking the sites from orbit is the only way t

  • by Zuriel (1760072) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @07:59AM (#36784696)

    Google said an order issued in the case required it to exclude the newspapers' websites.

    This does appear to be the case. Remove content from "all your sites" is very broad, and with the penalties mentioned I'd remove them, too. Seems an entirely reasonable response to that court order, especially accompanied by the relist offer.

    The paper La Capitale said on its web site Friday that Google had begun "boycotting" it.

    Google spokesman William Echikson said the court decision applied to web search as well as Google News and the company faced fines of 25,000 euros ($35,359 per infringement if it allowed the newspapers' websites to keep appearing.

    "We regret having to do so," he said. "We would be happy to re-include Copiepresse if they would indicate their desire to appear in Google Search and waive the potential penalties."

    See that last line? Google has explicitly said, give us permission to list you in search again and we will, no questions asked. So all the people jumping up and down about Google abusing their monopolistic power... no. They aren't.

    I really don't see how this is anything but a cash grab by the newspapers that misfired. After Google's offer to relist them as soon as they have permission, it's going to be quite awkward to A) deny Google that permission and then B) sue Google for delisting you. But I'm certain the newspapers will try. The delist and offer to relist seems to be a simple attempt to cut through legal shenanigans on Google's part. "We can list you or not list you. Say which one you want and we'll do it." And then afterwards, they can't cry about being unhappy with their status anymore with any real credibility.

  • Google's response (Score:4, Informative)

    by xonen (774419) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:12AM (#36785126) Journal

    Google responded to a query from a dutch newsite regarding this issue.

    Source: http://webwereld.nl/nieuws/107318/google-verbant-belgische-kranten--uitgevers-woest.html [webwereld.nl]

    Relevant quote, translated:
    ``We regret having taken this action, and are open for future cooperation with members of Copiepresse. Would we keep the material in our index, we risk fines up to 25,000 euro per incident. We would be pleased to include Copiepresse in our index if they declare they want to be included on Google Search and refrain from potentional charges``, Google declares to Webwereld.

    Original response in dutch:
    ``"Het spijt ons dat we dit moeten doen, en we staan open voor samenwerking met leden van Copiepresse in de toekomst. Zouden we het materiaal in de index houden, dan riskeren we boetes tot 25.000 euro per inbreuk. We nemen Copiepresse graag weer op in de index als ze aangeven op Google Search te willen verschijnen en afzien van potentiële boetes", verklaart Google tegenover Webwereld.``

  • by sjames (1099) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @02:25PM (#36787518) Homepage

    Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it!.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley

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