Belgian newspaper wins copyright suit against Google

(Associated Press via NewsEdge) Google lost a copyright lawsuit to Belgian newspapers that had demanded it remove headlines and links to articles posted on its news site without their permission.

The ruling, if it stands on appeal, could set a precedent for how Web search engines link to copyrighted material in the tumultuous arena of online news, according to the Belgian copyright group that launched the case.

Google said it would appeal, claiming its Google News service was 'entirely legal' and the Belgian ruling did not set any precedent.

The Brussels Court of First Instance ruled that Google could not rely on exemptions, such as claiming 'fair use,' because it says it reviews press articles when it displays headlines, a few lines of text, photos and links to the original page.

'Google is reproducing and publishing works protected by copyright,' it said. 'Google cannot call on any exceptions set out by law relating to copyright or similar rights.'

It decided in favor of Copiepresse, a copyright protection group representing 17 mostly French-language newspapers that complained the search engine's 'cached' links offered free access to archived articles that the papers usually sell.

Copiepresse said the ruling was based on EU law and could trigger similar cases against Google in other nations, saying it had been in touch with copyright groups in Norway, Austria and Italy.

But Google said the judgment, which confirms an initial ruling in September, would not necessarily carry influence in other areas.

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