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Belgian newspapers demand Google cash

Flemish legal blemish refuses to disappear

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Google is being dragged to court again by fresh demands from Belgian newspapers to cough up for using copyright material in its news and web indexing services.

Copiepresse, the publisher behind the lawsuit, has summoned Google to answer its up to €49m claim in a Brussels court in September, AP reports.

Last year Google was slapped with a ruling that meant it had to delete Google News links to and cached articles from Copiepresse papers. Google is appealing that decision, but already the publisher wants damages, starting with a €4m provisional payment.

The claim covers Google search from 2001, and Google News from its 2006 Belgian launch.

Google has always claimed that its cache and Google News are entirely legal fair use of copyright material. However, it struck payment deals with the major international news wires AP and AFP to avoid going to court for using their reports.

Meanwhile, UK newspaper groups have called for MPs to loosen regulations to help the industry battle Google. Eight Midlands local rags had to be shut recently when they were no longer viable for their owner Trinity Mirror, primarily because of the growth of the internet.

Laws designed to encourage competition in local news blocked a sale to Johnston Press that would have saved the papers. More here. ®

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