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Copiepresse continues copyright crusade

Google and MSN down, Yahoo! to go

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The organisation that won a Belgian ruling against Google and is negotiating with Microsoft's MSN will take action against Yahoo! as soon as it has the time, its head has said. Margaret Boribon told OUT-LAW Radio that she intends to open talks with Yahoo!

Copiepresse represents Belgian newspapers and took the Google case because it believed the Google News service breached the newspapers' copyright. Google argued that it does not break the law because it uses only snippets of text.

A Belgian case ruled in favour of Copiepresse and Google took down all reference to the newspapers represented by the body both in Google News and in its search engine.

This week it emerged that Copiepresse has started discussions with Microsoft's MSN over the same issue. Boribon, Copiepresse's secretary general, told weekly technology podcast OUT-LAW Radio that Yahoo! was also on the body's list.

"Yes," she said, when asked would she take action against Yahoo!, adding that it would have to wait until her organisation had time. "We are a very small team and I only have 24 hours in a day so I do my best.

"The law is the law. We are producing protected works and the law in Europe says clearly that to re-use that content you have to ask for permission," said Boribon. "We want every search engine, aggregator or re-user of our content to respect it and to ask for agreement and to pay a fair price."

The Google case will return to court in November, but Boribon said she is finding Microsoft eaier to deal with, and that it has been keen to talk from the outset. "MSN has a long tradition of attention to copyright for their computer programs so they know what copyright is, maybe more than Google," she said.

Boribon would like a revenue share from all news services that use her members' material, but says she is open to offers on exactly how that would work. "What we ask for one we ask for the other one – the same arguments, the same measures, they have done the same infringements, taking content without authorisation, so we ask the same: withdraw the content and come to the table to negotiate a fair deal."

She said her actions had attracted additional support from copyright groups representing authors, photographers, and scientific authors.

Copiepresse hopes, said Boribon, that its actions against Google will set a precedent that will mean that subsequent cases can be settled more easily. "We think the point is to have a clear situation with the main one and the others will follow," she said.

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