Google Appeals Belgian Copyright Ruling
Google Inc. has scheduled an appeal for July 17 in its copyright dispute with Belgian newspaper publishers, although the two sides expect to request an extension while they try to resolve the conflict amicably, spokespeople for Google and the publishing group, Copiepresse, said on Tuesday.
The court's schedule required Google to file its appeal 10 days ago, otherwise a ruling against it from February would have become permanent. But there will be no appeals hearing as such this month, and the two sides will merely ask the court for an extension while they continue their talks, said Catherine Anciaux, a legal advisor for Copiepresse.
A Google spokeswoman concurred. "There will be no substantive hearing for several months," she said.
Copiepresse, the publishing group representing Le Soir, Le Libre Belgique and other Belgian newspapers, sued Google last August for copyright infringement, arguing that it profits unfairly by posting snippets of its members' news stories on Google's Web sites without paying for their use.
The Court of First Instance in Brussels sided with Copiepresse in September, ordering Google to remove the Belgian Web sites from Google News and its main search engines, which it did. The court reaffirmed its decision in February.
Google was also fined ,25,000 (US$34,000) for each day that it delayed removing the newspapers' content from its Web site. It has not yet paid any fines, which will be considered as part of the appeals process, the Google spokeswoman said.
The two sides clearly hope to settle the matter out of court, however. They reached an initial agreement in May that allowed Google to begin linking to the newspapers from its main search engine again, although it still cannot list them in Google News.
Google maintains that linking to the content is legal and provides a useful service for the general public and the newspapers, because it drives traffic to their sites. Copiepresse has said it wants to be included in Google News but that it should be compensated, by an advertising revenue sharing agreement or in some other way.