Journal Article

Belgian newspapers v Google News: 2–0

Benoit Van Asbroeck and Maud Cock

in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice

Volume 2, issue 7, pages 463-466
Published in print July 2007 | ISSN: 1747-1532
Published online June 2007 | e-ISSN: 1747-1540 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jiplp/jpm076
Belgian newspapers v Google News: 2–0

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Legal context

Belgian copyright law prohibits the reproduction and publishing of works without the permission of its authors. The law, however, organizes a set of exceptions, including the quotation exception, and the news reporting exception.

Key issues

Google infringes the rights of the authors by reproducing and publishing works protected by copyright via both Google News and via its cached hyperlinks on www.google.be. Exceptions? The judge has considered that Google does not benefit from any of the exceptions provided by Belgian law: neither the quotation exception, neither the news reporting exception. Implied licence? Copyright is a right of prior consent of the authors. Google may not argue that it acts with the implicit consent of the website publishers by arguing that they could opt out from Google News by the use of technical means.

Practical significance

If upheld on appeal, this ruling constitutes a dangerous precedent for the web actors, for it assumes search engines should explicitly ask prior permission to publish cache content information or excerpts of articles. It therefore opens the door to further lawsuits, especially in Europe. This ruling could have an impact beyond the internet field and adversely affect similar situations, such as radio press reviews.

Keywords: The recent litigation in Belgium over the right of Google to cache stories from Belgium newspapers together with hyperlinks, for the benefit of users of its search engine, has raised considerable debate as to the relative roles of copyright protection, on the one hand, and the right to generate information for interested users on the other.; While some have criticized the Belgian newspaper proprietors for taking a negative and unrealistic position relating to search engines that fail to appreciate the benefit resulting from increased online visibility, others have taken Google to task for its failure to respect copyright entitlements.; In this review of the Belgian litigation the authors review the litigation, which is under appeal, discussing its implications and the likelihood of similar litigation in other jurisdictions.

Journal Article.  2653 words. 

Subjects: Intellectual Property Law

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