Although the news article seems to think this is a link/copyright fight, my high school french suggests that Google’s move into Google News is being tested here. (And, as it turns out, a helpful english version of the decision is also available <G>) Belgian Court Tells Google to Drop Newspaper Excerpts
A court ordered Google to remove on Monday all links to French- and German-language newspaper reports published in Belgium after an association of local publishers won a case that accused the company of violating the countryâ€™s copyright laws.
[…] Copiepresse, an organization that helps enforce the copyrights of some of Belgiumâ€™s best-known newspapers, including Le Soir and Le Libre Belgique, sued Google for publishing summaries of articles in the newspapers along with a link to the Web sites of the newspapers.
The Belgian Court of First Instance warned Google that failure to remove all material from the Belgian newspapers from Google News would result in daily fines of 1 million euros ($1.27 million) a day.
â€œI hope this is a trend,â€ said Pierre Louette, president of Agence France-Presse, the French news agency, which brought two legal actions against Google last year.
â€œThe Belgian story is a good sign for the news media in Europe because Belgian copyright law is very similar to copyright law right across the European Union,â€ he added.
Google contends that copyright law protects its service under fair-use provisions.
The case was heard on Sept. 5, but Google said it found out about the court hearing and its outcome on Friday.
[…] Mr. Louette of Agence France-Presse said that [Google’s redaction-on-demand] stance missed the point. â€œEffectively,â€™â€™ he said, â€œthey are offering us an opt-out from appearing on Google, but this doesnâ€™t address the real problem, which is that they attach no value to the headlines, pictures and text from around the world that we spend a lot of money producing.â€
The ChillingEffects link to the notice; local copy of the PDF. While my high school French doesn’t get a lot of exercise these days, it appears to me that this is actually a fight over Google News, rather than Google Search. To wit:
Attendu que l’expert GOLVERS, qui avait notamment pour mission de décrire la manifère dont sont présentès les articles de presse et l’interactivité entre le visiteur et le site web de Google News, conclut que “Google News est considerer comme un portail d’information et non un moteur de recherche.” ;
Or, in the english translation
Considering that the expert Mr. GOLVERS, who had as particular assignment to describe how the press articles are presented and the interactivity between the visitor and the web site of Google News, concludes that “Google news must be considered to be an information portal and not a search engine”;
In other words, it appears that Google is being held to the standards of a news outlet, rather than that of a search engine, given that this expert opinion is being cited. Moreover, the EU database laws are being brought into the picture as well. Of particular concern seems to be the cacheing of articles once the newspaper www sites remove the content (!!)
Considering that his research has led him to prove that, while an article is still online on on the site of the Belgian publisher, Google redirects directly, via the underlying hyperlinks, to the page where the article can be found, but as soon as the article can no longer be seen on the site of the Belgian newspaper publisher, it is possible to obtain the contents of it via the “Cached” hyperlink which then goes back to the contents of the article that Google has registered in the “cached” memory of the gigantic data base which Google keeps within its enormous number of servers;
Because, by doing this, Google makes it impossible for the publishers to charge for their archives or, as put in the opinion, “causes the publishers of the daily press to lose control of their web sites and their contents.”
This is going to be an interesting test — will Googlezon come to be?
Later: Ballsy Google Kicks Belgian Newspapersâ€™ Asses looks at what happens to newspaper web traffic when Google gives them what they asked for; also Slashdot’s Google News Removes Belgian Newspaper
Later: Google Won’t Follow Belgium Court Order – pdf; (2006 Sep 22) Google loses appeal on posting court ruling – pdf