Belgian Appeals Court Says Google Must Pay Up For Linking To Newspaper Websites
from the linking-is-infringing dept
The insanity continues. You may recall that, five years ago, a bunch of French- and German-language newspapers in Belgium, represented by the organization Copiepresse, claimed that Google was infringing on their copyrights by linking to newspaper stories. The fact that they could have blocked Google if they wanted to didn’t seem to matter. They just thought Google should pay up for sending them traffic, and amazingly, a court agreed. The case has gone on for years, with Copiepresse demanding a ton of cash. The latest is that — astoundingly — a Belgian appeals court has agreed with Copiepresse, and said that merely linking to these newspaper websites is infringement.
I guess this means we can no longer link to any website in Belgium.
In the meantime, Google has been ordered to remove any and all links to articles and photos from all Belgian newspapers (in German or French — as the article notes, the Flemish papers have no apparent problem with Google News). Google execs seem understandably bewildered by the decision. First of all, they’re sending these newspapers traffic, which you would think is a good thing. Second, for the most part (with a few notable exceptions) courts have found that merely linking is not infringement. And, most importantly, if these newspapers don’t want Google linking to them, all they have to do is set up a robots.txt file telling Google to go elsewhere.