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Belgium upholds anti-Google injunction

Search firm has to be told twice

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Copiepresse, the French and German language news agency in Belgium, has for the second time won the support of the Belgian courts in its battle to stop Google including snippets of its articles on the Google News search pages.

In September last year, the court handed down an injunction against the search firm using Copiepresse's material. Google asked the court to reconsider its judgement, a fine legal point that is not quite the same as an appeal, and this week the injunction was upheld.

There is some good news in there for Google, though. It had been facing a fine of €1m per day for continuing to display the disputed material, plus an additional daily €500k,000 if it had failed to make the judgement public. This week, the court cut the potential fine for publishing the material to a much less staggering €25,000 per day.

Copiepresse, which manages copyrights for various newspapers, argued that the publications it represents only make news stories freely available for a limited time. Extracts of the copyrighted works were still available through Google's site once this limited period was over, it argued.

The firm said it was happy to discuss terms with Google, so that the search engine could continue listing its stories, for a fee.

Last October, Microsoft opted to settle out of court and agreed to remove links to Copiepresse's news rather than fight it out in court and risk setting a legal precedent.

A spokesman for Google told us that the company was now planning to appeal, but refused to speculate about the likely outcome of the case. ®

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