Belgian Copyright Case Expands in Scope; MSN Also Contacted by Copiepresse

There’s a great thread at Groklaw which delves deeply into the legal landmine surrounding news search in Belgium – Interview with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse About Google.be

The opening post includes an interview with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse, the organization that recently obtained a default judgment against Google, which forced the search giant to include a copy of the judgment on the front page of their Belgian News Search and organic search.

The thread was started yesterday, and an update this morning points to articles announcing some interesting new twists. One is that Copiepresse has made some demands of MSN (link no longer available) and their news coverage. It also notes that they may expand their scope beyond search engines in the future to other sites that may be taking their content without permission.

That article notes that the lawyer from Copiepresse indicates that MSN Belgium has been more open to cooperation than Google.

I was drawn into this Groklaw thread by a link from the original article to my previous post on this topic, Belgian Copyright Ruling Against Google News, and would like to welcome visitors from Groklaw to SEO by the Sea. There are 500 comments presently, on the Groklaw post, including some from me. They welcome more, if you have something to say on this topic.

Danny Sullivan also talked with Margaret Boribon about the case in September in Google’s Belgium Fight: Show Me The Money, Not The Opt-Out, Say Publishers. The Groklaw interview raises some interesting new concerns, such as:

  • Copiepresse being upset that their articles are still showing up in http://news.google.fr/
  • Copiepresse believes that the outcome of this ruling will have an impact on how Google does business throughout Europe,
  • Google’s ability to determine what gets indexed could be a powerful tool for censorship, and;
  • The role of the World Association of Newspapers and their Automated Content Access Protocol for media sites.

I have some concerns about the Google cache myself, when it comes to copyright laws. But I’m having troubles understanding how displaying titles and small snippets from articles, along with links to the Belgian news sites is harming those sites.

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6 thoughts on “Belgian Copyright Case Expands in Scope; MSN Also Contacted by Copiepresse”

  1. Hey Bill,

    Based upon this line of thinking, we all should be able to walk around nude, but if anyone looks at us we should sue them for trying to see something that we made accessible to everyone.

    I know that if I don’t want someone (search engine or otherwise) to see that information, then I wouldn’t publish. Now if they want to restrict access, then put it behind a password protected page or go back to HTML4.0 101 and make the necessary additions to the Meta Tag.

    What happened to common sense?

  2. Nice analogy.

    I think that Copiepresse does want the search engine to access the content and use it, but they want a cut of Google’s profits for the right to do so.

    The easiest solution is for Copiepresse to use a noarchive tag, and take advantage of the traffic that Google is sending their way. but, I understand the feeling of helplessness in the face of Google and the other search engines holding all of the control.

    I also imagine that there would be a wider range of opinions being expressed about this if Google was showing advertisements on their news pages.

  3. Interesting points – although I think companies should just take advantage of the visitors that Google and the cache can provide. I can’t understand how they are being badly effected by this.

  4. Hi James,

    I think one of the issues that confronts the news organizations is that the transformation from print to digital is one filled with a lot of risk and uncertainty, and they want to make sure that their businesses survive and thrive.

    I agree with you that they should be thankful for the traffic that they do receive from Google, but I suspect that they fear that Google might develop too much control as a gateway to their content, and they are fighting for as much control over that as they can get. I’m not sure that a fight over copyright and royalties is the way to move forward, but it’s been one that they’ve been pursuing.

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