Belgian Courts Insist Google Post Legal Ruling

from the so-much-for-Google's-clean-interface dept

Google is famous for the clean, barren look of its front page. It looks like they may be forced to lose that in Belgium. In the ongoing case where a bunch of newspaper publishers are trying to force Google to pay them to index them and send them traffic (a move that has search engine optimizers worldwide wondering what they could possibly be thinking), Google appealed both parts of the ruling. The bigger issue (the indexing and showing links to Belgian certain news sources) will be heard on appeal in November. However, on the issue of forcing Google to place the entire text of the legal order on the front of both google.be and news.google.be, the Belgian courts have turned down Google's appeal, and said they will start fining the company if it does not place the entire text (with no commentary, either) on both websites. This seems drastic and entirely unnecessary for a variety of reasons. All it really seems to do is broadcast the backwardness with which Belgian news publishers view the internet. It makes you wonder... do Belgian publishers require libraries to pay them extra money to list their books in a card catalog? What this really highlights, however, is that there are still plenty of industries out there that don't necessarily understand how the internet works -- and that can cause all sorts of problems for internet companies who assume most people understand when things are being done for their benefit. From a policy perspective, someone in Belgium might want to recognize how dangerous this ruling may be for its own industry. Even though it was made at the request of these Belgian newspapers, the long term effect could end up being quite damaging. Not only does it remove traffic to these sites, but it should also make any other search engine think twice before doing business in Belgium.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Chris Maresca, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 12:35pm

    Pull out of the market

    Where I in their shoes, I would just pull out of the market. Make Google.be just the text of the ruling, that's it. No search, no links, nothing.

    It's a small enough market, they don't have much to loose and they could set their proxy DNSes to re-direct .be IPs to google.com

     

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  2.  
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    James, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 12:44pm

    F them

    Drop google.be and offer a belgian-ized translation on google.com via link.... idiots

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Cowards, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 1:00pm

    Don't piss them off and start a trade war! I can't live without my waffles and Hoegaarden!

    Breakfast of champions!

     

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  4.  
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    Joe Smith, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 1:02pm

    .be

    The simple solution for Google would be to not index .be at all - indeed they may have to do that to compy with any court order in this proceeding.

    That may be what the newspapers really want since Google will compete with the newspapers for Belgian advertising.

    If Google has to post the decision and is not allowed to comment then two questions arise:
    1. are they allowed to say that they have been ordered to not comment?
    2. can they allow visitors to post comments?

     

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  5.  
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    cybercop, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 1:20pm

    The real answer is...

    to have the full text of the court prodedings placed between the Google Logo and the search bar. Then use a browser renderd font so that the page is very slow to load. If you get enough complaints from the right group they may persuade the courts to learn a bit and make informed decisions.

    Now I am note sure how the judges are elected or appointed or what, but a move like that in the U.S. would be a RGE (Resume Generating Event) for Judges that are elected.

     

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  6.  
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    Jimmy Straightline, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 1:36pm

    Re: industries out there that don't necessarily un

    Duh. The internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck, it's a series of tubes.

    Please don't let me be the second person to make that remark...

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 1:53pm

    F 'em++

    Google - take your ball and go home.

     

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  8.  
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    Chris Maresca, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 1:54pm

    Re:

    Hoegaarden is owned by Interbrew:

    http://www.inbev.com/brands/2__3__88__hoegaarden.cfm

    Guess the marketing was pretty successfull. BTW, so is Stella Artois. In many markets, they are brewed locally rather than imported.

    Chris.

     

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  9.  
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    Dosquatch, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 1:58pm

    Open thought to the Belgian news agencies

    If you don't want your content linked, why not just shut off your web servers? You're certainly not required to have your news stories online.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 2:08pm

    yea...

    i agree with a previous poster... either don't index .be at all... or just completely shut down google.be ... better yet, don't allow any traffic to the site whose ip is from that region. ban them from the google service all together. once enough people get pissed that they don't have google anymore things will change.

     

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  11.  
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    [name withheld by reason of embarrassment], Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 3:02pm

    the obvious answer?

    bomb them back to the stone age? ;)

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 3:14pm

    Re: yea...

    That's tyranny in action for you. And tyranny should be avoided at all costs. It isn't right at all.

     

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  13.  
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    Starky, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 3:30pm

    Re: The real answer is...

    "to have the full text of the court proceedings placed between the Google Logo and the search bar. Then use a browser rendered font so that the page is very slow to load."

    I actually think that that would be a good idea, but also remove the search bar and add in as many bandwidth-sucking items (flash, videos, high-resolution pictures, etc.) on the page as possible. They don't need to be visible, just make the page load slow as hell until they change the ruling.

     

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  14.  
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    Mike Mixer, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 3:39pm

    dumbass europeans

    This is all about the Europeans despising Americans and any chance they have to humiliate or degrade us is used with the same relish as drinking a fine wine. I would ignore the bastards, what'll they do? annoy us more. If they don't shut up just cut the whole shebang off, don't accept any queries from Belgium so they can find out what isolation is about.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Cowerd, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 3:49pm

    Belgian Ruling

    Might be a bit premature to attribute Anti-American fever to all Europeans for this ruling. They still do eat McDonalads after all.

    It does seem a little surprising that Belgium would give out such a ruling. In the end, these sort of moves are going to do more to internationalize american news than they will protect individual foreign media interests.

     

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  16.  
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    M.Banzai, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 4:45pm

    Belgian Ruling

    Simple, don't index the belgian media. Get indexes of the belgian news from every other country in europe and give the links- make them run the disclaimer and court order.

     

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  17.  
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    jo smith, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 6:20pm

    Stupid frog-like country

    Index them and just serve it from the US. Or Tanzania.

     

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  18.  
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    Eric, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 6:35pm

    Lawyers

    String them all up by the lamp poles. I hate 'em! And tell the Belgium government to shove it.

     

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  19.  
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    ReaderRick, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 8:42pm

    Compliance

    "have the full text of the court proceedings placed between the Google Logo and the search bar. Then use a browser rendered font so that the page is very slow to load."

    If it's not specified in the ruling:
    1. Display the ruling in such a small font that it looks like a smudge on the page.
    2. Display the text as a continuious square boarder that spirals inward with the search field in the center.
    3. Display the text as a background image with the standard Google page "floating" in front of it.
    4. Fit the text to a standard Google page. Set the text color to white and with Google's standard white background there'd be nothing to see unless someone does a "select all".

     

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  20.  
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    Brian, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 9:43pm

    Retaliation

    Were I Google I would retaliate in the following manner. No business based in Belgium may advertise via Google nor would links to any Belgian business (.com, etc.) be allowed in their systems. Links are a two way street. Hit businesses on their bottom line and see how fast legislation is introduced to reverse this.

    I would also add a process, say a link at the bottom of the page, to allow any individual with a potentially blocked domain to submit documentation that they are not a business. You do not want to hurt the average citizen and it gives you one more screw to turn to escalate the situation should you need to escalate.

    Even just blocking every media site in Belgium should get the media's attention at a minimum when they see traffic, and their ad revenue go down. Again, links are a two-way street. What these id10ts haven't figured out is that the internet is not a one-way transactional medium nor a zero-sum game. By adding value to the newspaper's sites, through links, Google should actually be charging the newspaper sites, not the other way around, and indeed, indirectly they do by showing advertising on the pages with the links to the newspaper's sites. It's a whole new market system, one not covered by any economic text I read when I was getting my degrees in the '90's.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 10:10pm

    I agree with some of the earlier postings. Google should just remove the google.be website completely. I'm sure the Belgium people are smart enough to know that google.com still works.. Just include anything found in google.be in google.com.

    Under these circumstances it could be impossible for Belgium to censor Google after that..

     

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  22.  
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    Aaron Friel, Sep 23rd, 2006 @ 12:31am

    Retaliaton...

    Is not "Do No Evil."

    Google knows that, hopefully.

    They know that the Belgian people are not represented by the Belgian government on this issue. So they'll do whatever they can to keep service operational for the Belgian people.

    How would I apply the court order and still do no evil? I'd append the text to the main page page. It's only text, and people don't have to read it. If they scroll down far enough, then they can read it. However, they should comment on it anyways, but very, very slyly. They should use their adwords technology to 'comment' on it by having automatically generated, [i]algorithmically chosen[/i] links to reasons why it is invalid. For news.google.be, they should have a whole news section devoted to it, and the top articles would be chosen from blogs, from places like Techdirt.

    Google would never have to say a word, but every Belgian would be able to find plenty of links to refute the court.

     

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  23.  
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    Caldorf, Sep 23rd, 2006 @ 6:45am

    Another Theory

    Perhaps the Belgiums are pursuing a pan-eurpean strategy to displace google and replace it with Quaero(the eurpean union google equivalent).

    Imagine a number of EU countries adopting the same policy, with only Quaero willing to the foot the bill to index the content. Taking this to its logical extreme, Quaero would become the European search engine of choice, able to index the non-european sites for free (as google does), but with the advantage of exclusive EU content.

    In fact, I would hazard to say executing this strategy would be the only way to give Quaero a fighting chance.

     

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  24.  
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    Caldorf, Sep 23rd, 2006 @ 6:47am

    RE: Another Theory

    Sorry... I meant Belgians, not Belgiums

     

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  25.  
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    Tyshaun, Sep 23rd, 2006 @ 7:54am

    Re: Another Theory

    Perhaps the Belgiums are pursuing a pan-eurpean strategy to displace google and replace it with Quaero(the eurpean union google equivalent).

    Imagine a number of EU countries adopting the same policy, with only Quaero willing to the foot the bill to index the content. Taking this to its logical extreme, Quaero would become the European search engine of choice, able to index the non-european sites for free (as google does), but with the advantage of exclusive EU content.

    In fact, I would hazard to say executing this strategy would be the only way to give Quaero a fighting chance.


    Great point. The thing I want to point out to everyone is that Google is a service, not a right. Googe is in the business of having as large an audience as it can, within reason. Most of the comments on this topic have centered on google "getting back" at Belgium either by pulling out, blocking .de content, or some weirdly childish thing like slowing down the google site itself. The idea is that the people will all rise up and say "I WANT MY GOOGLE!". How naive. The more realistic response is that anyone afftected will just use another search engine.

    Take home messages

    1) It is in Googles interest not to piss off the governments of countries whenever possible because it hurts the bottom line (ad sales).

    2) As nice as google is, there are plenty of other seaarch engines that can do the job and would love to see it either banned or vountarily pulled out of markets, it makes their job easier.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2006 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re: Another Theory

    it's simplistic thinking like that that shows you'll never be successful in business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Jordan Mitchell, Sep 23rd, 2006 @ 7:04pm

    Posted

    It looks like they simply posted the text of the ruling below the search box.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Tyshaun, Sep 23rd, 2006 @ 8:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Another Theory

    it's simplistic thinking like that that shows you'll never be successful in business.


    Let's see

    1) I don't believe I've ever met you so you have absolutely no idea what my "success" in business is or will be. For all you know, I could be a very successful businessman.

    2) Since my thinking is so simplistic please regale us with your evolved and superior thoughts so that we all may learn. I was always taught that if you're going to spit venom like yours you should at least qualify it.

    Unfortunately, some people who post anonymously are too imature to actually participate in an adult discussion of issues. That being said I welcome your intelligent response but expect your childish come upense about my intellect or spelling or something.

    tick tock anonymous coward...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    NEOCON, Sep 23rd, 2006 @ 9:37pm

    Fuck Belgiam, Google should only be for us americans and not the rest of the ungrateful world.

     

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  30.  
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    Joe Smith, Sep 24th, 2006 @ 10:36am

    Re: Retaliaton...

    They know that the Belgian people are not represented by the Belgian government on this issue.

    Everyone is responsible for the actions of their own government, even if they do not agree with or support that government. No government can continue without the tacit support of the majority of the population and no government can continue in the face of the active opposition of 20% of the population.

    If the Belgians don't like the government, it is up to them to change it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Roy D Lee, Sep 24th, 2006 @ 1:33pm

    Belgium court ruling

    Plain and simple,the Belgium Justices need an internet education before they find their county so far behind times that they will never be where the rest of us are now. If I had a company,land based or on the net i'd darn sure want Google to link to my site. But what do I know, I'm just a 60 year old truck driver in the USA. Think God.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Roy D Lee, Sep 24th, 2006 @ 1:36pm

    Belgium court ruling

    Plain and simple,the Belgium Justices need an internet education before they find their country so far behind times that they will never be where the rest of us are now. If I had a company,land based or on the net i'd darn sure want Google to link to my site. But what do I know, I'm just a 60 year old truck driver in the USA. Thank God.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    danny s, Sep 25th, 2006 @ 7:34am

    Re: dumbass europeans

    The bizarre thing is that google is usually one of the US companies we dont think are complete evil crooks. Okay, there is the China thing. (I am from the UK).

    But this thing from the Belgians is just backwards and counterproductive. Dont these morons realise that some people spend hundreds of pounds, and many hours just trying to get great search engine rankings?

    Google, just filter the whole Belgian press from your pages. Stuff'em I say, there are plenty of smaller owners, and probably Belgian bloggers who appretiate your attention, probably have a google ad bar, and wont try to sue your backside for linking to them. Look at it this way, who, bar the very small Belgian market, is actually interested in these poxy newspapers....

    I would love to see how hits to their site tail off as they no longer come up in google searches or news, and as other search engines (Yahoo, MSN) etc catch on as well...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    kevin, Sep 30th, 2006 @ 9:15pm

    google

    Google should be for everyone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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