Belgian Newspapers 'Give Permission' To Google To Return Them To Search Results

from the who-did-what-now? dept

We just wrote about how the Belgian newspapers who, back in 2006, sued Google for linking to their newspaper websites. Earlier this year, the newspapers won that lawsuit, and the court ordered (as the lawsuit specifically asked for) Google to remove those sites from “all” of its sites. However, when Google actually did that, and their traffic plummeted, the newspapers started freaking out, complaining that Google was being vindictive. Talk about sour grapes from a winner. You get everything you ask for… and then you complain?

Of course, the reality is that these newspapers totally miscalculated. They wanted to have everything, which meant Google sending them all sorts of traffic… and they wanted Google to pay them for the privilege. Of course, after these complaints, it appears Google had a chat with Copiepresse, the organization representing these newspapers, and has “received permission” to put the newspapers back in the index, along with promises that they won’t be sued again for copyright infringement for doing so. So what has Copiepresse accomplished? It spent five years fighting Google… and won… and then let Google immediately go back to doing what it was doing before. Nice work, guys.

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Companies: copiepresse, google

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Comments on “Belgian Newspapers 'Give Permission' To Google To Return Them To Search Results”

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77 Comments
Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Are the papers giving back the settlement?

Google has nothing to gain by punishing them, and no desire to do so. It is NOT Google versus the content companies, and Google knows that (even if the content companies often don’t). Google wants newspapers to succeed and will gladly help them.

You know what’s far more valuable to Google than recouping some legal costs? Having more newspapers recognize that Google is not their enemy, and that they can all work together to everyone’s benefit. The last thing Google wants is more accusations of hoarding all the power and controlling the fate of the news industry.

A.R.M. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Are the papers giving back the settlement?

But that’s not what John Doe is implying and I agree with the statement. It’s one thing to be open and accepting after the fees are recouped, which was something the offenders decided to collect despite the fact Google remained open during discussions.

When you have businesses like this, the last thing to do is to let their behavior go unpunished.

Because Yahoo, Bing, and any other “content sharing” business is just low hanging fruit to the behavior.

Just look at how many cases Google’s facing now despite being reasonable. I’m still curious to see what’s going to happen with that bullshit Viacom lawsuit.

You know the one, for $1 billion (not a typo) despite Google having the law on their side?

If not, perhaps you need to use TD’s search feature for “Viacom”.

Warning: what you’re about to read is another example of businesses abusing their position.

Not that I’m defending Google here, but this practice of “forgiving” is why we see so much abuse by those “forgiven”.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re: Are the papers giving back the settlement?

Exactly. Google needs to take a defensive (not offensive) posture here and not add them back until they have paid back the costs Google incurred fighting this asinine lawsuit. If they say oh, ok we will add you right back, what message does that send?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Are the papers giving back the settlement?

On what are you basing the tacit assumption that this sequence of events was a net gain for the newspapers involved? The only way your argument makes any sense is if there was a clear financial incentive, as long as Google doesn’t demand money from them, for others to pursue a similar course of action in the future. I don’t think that’s the case here.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Are the papers giving back the settlement?

I thoroughly disagree. Most people covering this incident have, even when taking Google’s side overall, expressed discomfort at what they see as Google’s pressure tactics. And that’s just a drop in the ocean of accusations against Google for monopoly, antitrust and anti-competitive practices.

Nothing is worth more to Google than retaining an image of search neutrality. Right now, they have public opinion tentatively on their side in this issue – if they decided to use their position of power to punish these newspapers, they would lose that very quickly – and they would validate the claims by countless other people that Google is somehow unfair or wields a disproportionate amount of power.

You think punishing them would help reduce the number of lawsuits Google faces. I think the exact opposite would happen.

New Mexico Mark says:

Re: Re: Re: Are the papers giving back the settlement?

Rather than directly recouping fines and legal fees, Google should just say, “We’re not really comfortable with this business arrangement, especially given the extraordinary time and effort you exerted to *prevent* us linking to your sites. Let’s stick with the court judgement, give this a five year “cooling down” period and revisit the issue at that point.”

Pjerky (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Are the papers giving back the settlement?

That is a great middle ground actually. My first response was to just say f-them and never add them back into the index again.

But by simply saying that they are going to follow the court ruling and wait until trust has been regained or enough time has past for wounds to heal (or the court order to be lifted), it effectively punishes them while not looking like punishment at all AND they would be following legal direction given by the courts.

Your solution is beautiful and elegant. Google can take the financial hit and look like a reasonable company.

techflaws.org (profile) says:

Re: Re: Are the papers giving back the settlement?

Google has nothing to gain by punishing them

Actually it has. German publishers are on a quest to get a new law introduced, the “Leistungsschutzrecht” which would force aggregators like Google news to pay for text snippets.

Since our politicians are too darn stupid they somehow overheard the three main reasons against this:

– publishers voluntarily put their stuff on the Internet
– use robots.txt if you don’t want your stuff at Google
– publishers receive tons of traffic by Google for free

The best and easiest way to demonstrate that all those bastards wanna do is double dip, is to kick them out of the index and let them show their true colors by whining again.

As been discussed in other threads lately, since there’s no barriers to entry for other search engines, people will have a hardtime to get Google on monopoly charges.

It would definitely be wort the trouble to expose those publishers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“It is too bad that Rupert is too busy with other things to learn a lesson from this.”

Rupert may be a lot of bad things and he may be a total jerk but he is over 80 years old. Meaning he grew up in a radio and ‘pin and ink’ world not in a internet world. He may use the internet but he is not part of the internet culture.

Now lets see. 2011 –

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

More lenient than I.

Google is definitely taking the high road here. I wouldn’t put them back in even if they offered to pay the fees and fines back. Just to spite them. They wanted this, they should have to live with it. Just a taste probably isn’t enough to learn the lesson well. With copyright it never is. These lessons must be taught long and hard. I have a feeling that with the short duration they were removed, it was not long enough to make the lesson learned here remain etched in their mind.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: More lenient than I.

Here’s the thing, though. With this decision it opens the doors for “exclusive deals”. Copiepresse could potentially go to Yahoo or Bing (just to name two of Google’s biggest competitors) or even Google itself and sign a deal (possibly for a small stake in that engine’s ad dollars) to be the sole indexer of their material.

Other search engines would now have to adhere to any request to be de-listed, making the search engine that got the deal much more “valuable”. The big content companies just love this, they now have a way to “force” search engines to pay, or risk having to de-list those companies and lose business to companies who do pay.

Maybe, maybe they can (OMG yes) create a whole new “middleman” industry around being the new gatekeepers for content distribution to license content to search engines.

C’mon, you know there is some RIAA/MPAA thug or some fruitcake at NBC or Sony just getting their rocks off thinking about this.

Ed C. says:

Re: Re: Re: So...

I’m sure that it cost Google time to relist the newspapers, as well as delist them in the first place. Google does offer a lot of services for free, but there are others that cost. After all, copyrigtards think they, as a business, have the right to control every aspect of their work, so why shouldn’t Google have the same right to their own business? No, it turns out that the papers just want a free ride on Google’s business model.

However, you could say that Google was free riding on their business as wordsmiths–and you would be right. So, both were free riding on each other’s business, and making more money in return. Kind of funny how that works out. And some still insist that “free” must be a “zero sum” game after all player’s scores are counted.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 So...

I understand that there’s a certain very satisfying sense of fair play and justice that comes from this idea of making the newspapers sleep in their bed as they’ve made it – it’s very appealing and poetic. But it’s just not smart in the long run. Google did not suffer some major (or even noticeable) financial loss here – they have no need to recoup. What they are thinking about is the future, and in the future they want the newspapers to be their friends.

This is pretty basic stuff: it’s about being the bigger man. If you have a disagreement with a coworker, and you eventually win and force them to swallow their pride, what do you do? Do you keep pressing and escalating things, attempt to punish them and lord your victory over them? Or do you let what’s over be over, and work to ensure a smooth relationship in the future?

Joe says:

Re: Re:

correct – I would like to see this point made more strongly. Their specific point was this:

Il faut distinguer le moteur de recherche de Google et le service Google news. Les ?diteurs de presse ne s?opposent pas ? ce que leurs contenus soient r?f?renc?s par le moteur de recherche de Google, ils refusent par contre que leurs contenus d?information soient repris dans Google news.

(google translation-yes I’m aware of the irony)
We must distinguish the search engine Google and the Google news service. Newspaper publishers do not object that their contents are referenced by the search engine Google, they refuse cons by their information content to be included in Google News.

source:http://www.lalibre.be/societe/cyber/article/673478/attitude-brutale-de-google.html

So this seems to be a case where they said in their lawsuit to remove their content from ‘all’ the servers and intended that to mean all of Googles news products. Google took that literally (imagine that…) and removed them from the main index effectively disappearing them from the internet for google searches.

I don’t agree with the publishers here in their lawsuit and find some of their position statements silly (ie they ‘authorized’ Google to index their website for the search engine in 2007), but it seems many of the comments here are mistakenly thinking they want back in the news index. I did not see anything in the statement that indicates that. Given Googles pay for news deal with AP, they are probably trying for something similar. I don’t think they’ll get it.

FuzzyDuck says:

Re: Re: Re:

Sorry but that article by lalibre misses the point that the ruling specifically mentioned Google sites under “whatever name”, that sounds rather all inclusive. The ruling also stated Google needed permission from Copiepresse in the future. Finally the ruling also banned Google from “cacheing” those sites. Unfortunately there is no way to index a site without cacheing those pages for analysis.

Thus Google did the right thing, they complied with a court other and did not relist those sites untill Copiepresse gave them explicit permission as required by that same court order.

Google would have been entitled to stick with the court order, and deny relisting, but didn’t. The only vindictive party here is Copiepresse and the Walloonian newspapers, as these anti-Google articles testify.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually, from what I can tell from the article, Google has started indexing them the same way they always have – but has also given them a refresher in how to use robots.txt

See, that’s the real forgotten point here: robots.txt ALWAYS gave them the ability to selectively block Google News

Google hasn’t changed anything as far as I can see – they have just told them to start using the system that was always in place.

David Muir (profile) says:

Re: Re: robots.txt

This is what angered me about this story from the very beginning. All the court costs and legal wrangling, all the media hype and misinformation, and all the general waste that went along with this campaign since 2006: ALL of it could have been avoided by proper use of the existing technology.

Someone here pointed out: guys who need their secretaries to print their emails out for them shouldn’t be making Internet policy — or in this case handling a case related to Internet technology.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: robots.txt

That is just not correct. If they used robots.txt to block googlebot, they would be removed from all of Google’s normal search results. They only wanted to be blocked from the “google news” area.

Because Google does not seperate the two out (does not use separate, block-able bots), there is no way for a site own to control what is and what is not found in each of these separate Google products.

Google appears to have intentionally misread the judge’s order and removed them from all Google products, which was no the intent of the lawsuit to start with.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 robots.txt

Because Google does not seperate the two out (does not use separate, block-able bots), there is no way for a site own to control what is and what is not found in each of these separate Google products.

Actually, that’s just not correct. Google does use two separate bots and does give you the ability to selectively block them, both through meta tags and through robots.txt

Next time try googling it ๐Ÿ˜‰

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 robots.txt

That’s quite a laugh. You say “that is just not correct” to a guy who says “guys who need their secretaries to print their emails out for them shouldn’t be making Internet policy”.

Here’s a clue for you (and it’s free!): The site could have used robots.txt to be excluded from Google News and included in Google Search.

What they wanted was for Google to pay them. Bunch of freetards.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 robots.txt

>> Because Google does not seperate the two out (does not use separate, block-able bots)

As many have said before me, this is plain wrong. Here is the relevant quote from one of the linked pages above:

Please keep in mind that the robot we use for Google News is called Googlebot-News. This is different from our Google Web Search robot, called Googlebot.

out_of_the_blue says:

Heh, heh. -- So Google has no "right" to even index them.

I think that’s about right for the actual value: it’s a balance. Hope more “content providers” go that route. Google isn’t taking the high road here, just weaseling the way grifters do, because if seen as too arrogant, there’s now a way to control it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Heh, heh. -- So Google has no "right" to even index them.

Seriously, what kind of demented world are you living in?

Google just demonstrated that content providers needed Google more than it needs a single instance of them. They complied fully with the court order, and then rescinded once the threat of penalties was removed.

It’s the newspaper that’s trying to weasel its way around the system, only to find that they just aren’t that important.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

7-11 is a reseller actually. They buy the newspaper, tack some profit into the pricetag and then sell it to consumers.

Google does not buy anything from the newspapers. Although they used to have an AP subscription that they have used to blanket delist all “news” sites that did nothing but reprint AP stories.

DannyB (profile) says:

One thing from the article really pissed me off

The last sentence in the article:

> Still, the whole situation seems a bit ominous, in that
> Google was willing to use the cutthroat tactic of removing
> the publications before they came to an agreement.

Wouldn’t the cutthroat thing to do to be to remove them from the index as soon as litigation started, and keep them removed for the years that the litigation took?

Google can’t win no matter what it does.

techturf (profile) says:

They are still being punished, but don't know it yet

So Google put them back in general search results, but will keep them removed from Google News results, which is what they said they wanted, unlike the court ruling. However, I bet 90% of the visits to their websites via google were as a result of the news results, not general search results. Think – how often have you come across a newspaper website as a result of a general google search? So, Fear Not! These dummies will still get their due.

Anonymous Coward says:

I very much agree with BeeAitch. I would have told these yoyos that Google was following the law. One they took particular pains to have enforced at the cost of court, lawyers, and fines. Since the money paid out in the defense and loss of case resulted in paying a fine, all that money was not available for business uses it would have been used for and any that would have been put into investments, was not there to recoup interest and profits.

Since these newspapers seem now to understand that exposure on the net and availability is worth something to them, they would have to make right the above in addition to turning over signed statements agreeing never to sue Google again… for any reason and barring that I would make plain Google was now happy with being within the framework of legality.

The purpose in this would be future dealings not only with this group but as precedence for dealing with other groups that might come upon the same scheme.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ban them from Google

If I were Google, I would force them to go back to court and sue Google to rescind their prior order to remove them. Hopefully a judge would see through this complete farce and waste of money and find in Google’s favour, awarding punitive damages.

Force the newspaper executives, lobbyists, and politicians who supported it to admit in public they don’t have a fucking clue.

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