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Google News faces €1m fine in Brussels

If it's Tuesday, this must be the Belgian courts

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A Brussels Court has ruled that Google must remove all articles from Belgian publishing group Copiepress from its Google News service because it is in breach of author's rights and Belgian databank regulations. If Google fails to abide by the court ruling, it faces a fine of €1m per day.

Recently Google launched its Belgian version of Google News, which scans some 400 Belgian news sites. However, the Belgian newspaper editors were extremely unhappy with the service and demanded some form of agreement or at least financial compensation.

Google disagreed, and argued that it doesn't republish entire articles and that their service is within “fair use” policies. It also allows publishers to opt out of Google News. Most publishers, however, want to be included in Google News because they believe it's a benefit to them and their readers, Google says.

The recent lawsuit was filed only by the publishers of the newspapers Le Soir, La Libre Belgique and La dernière herure. The Dutch-language newspapers in Belgium represented by Reprocopy press haven’t filed a lawsuit yet.

Cedric Manara, associate professor of law at the EDHEC Business School, said to his knowledge, this was the first time Google taken a copyright hit over its Google new service. He added there are currently at least two other lawsuits against Google over its news service: one in the US (District Court of Columbia) and one in France (Paris Commercial Court).

Last year, Agence France Presse (AFP) sued Google over inclusion of its content in Google News. Among other things, AFP said Google removed photo credits and copyright notices in violation of federal law. Google then decided to remove all AFP content.®

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