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Google resumes linking to Belgian newspaper sites

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Google and Belgian newspaper group Copiepresse have come to an agreement on a minor part of their dispute over copyright, but have not agreed on the major point of difference between them.

Copiepresse members will use an automated system to keep Google from saving its content in its cache, but that is a technical fix that has always been available to the group.

References to the 17 newspapers represented by Copiepresse will return to the normal Google search engine, but their stories will not yet return to the Google News service.

The actual websites of the newspapers will be findable on Google, but the content will be protected by a 'noarchive' tag.

"The websites of the Belgian French and German-language daily press will now appear without a 'cached' link in the search results of Google's search engine, thanks to their use of the 'noarchive' tag," said a statement from Copiepresse and Google.

Copiepresse won a Belgian court case earlier this year in which it argued that Google's use of its members' headlines and news stories on the Google News service infringed their copyright. It also objected to the practice of Google's caching material, which involves saving it on Google servers for delivery to viewers independently of the newspaper websites.

"This decision was made jointly by Google and Copiepresse as part of the constructive dialogue that has resumed between the two organizations," said the statement. "The Belgian French and German language daily press publishers and Google intend to use a quiet period in the court dispute to continue their efforts to identify tangible ways to collaborate in the long term."

After the Belgian court's ruling, Google removed its links to the newspapers' websites. Those links have now been restored.

In its lawsuit Copiepresse wanted Google to seek permission to use any content but did want members to be able to choose for their content to appear in Google News. Google News does not host entire articles, but sends readers to the newspaper websites themselves.

Google insists that its Google News service is lawful because it publishes so little of each story. It says it removes any material on request from the copyright owner. It is appealing the ruling of the Belgian Court of First Instance.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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