A newspaper copyright management company, Copiepresse, which manages copyright issues for more than one dozen Belgian newspapers, most of which are published in French, won a suit on 13 Feb against Google for publishing links to news articles without the permission of the newspapers.
The news is all over the Net. http://news.google.com.sg/news?hl=en&ct=title&ie=UTF-8&q=Google+Copiepresse&btnG=Search.
Various analysts have suggested that the case has wide ramifications for online news portals. Check out some of time in the New York Times report: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/14/business/14google.html?_r=1&oref=slogin.
But I think the decision has much much less than meets the eye.
1. The copyright management group essentially wants a share of the revenue that Google gets from advertisements run alongside the links. That is quite easily done.
2. As Google says in its corporate blog http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/02/about-copiepresse-decision.html: newspapers who are unhappy to have their links associated with Google can simply ask that their links be removed. Best practice around the world for this issue of copyright infringement is that the infringing party should be given a reasonable period to act and only when it refuses to act should further action be taken.
Of course, those who even consider NOT having their links on Google need to think twice.Google has enough market clout so that in the end, the original petition to the court that Google shares its revenue makes the most sense.
Peng Hwa ANG