It seems that soon copyright dispute between Belgian newspapers and Google Inc. will be over. They said that both are involved in “constructive dialogue” and even have agreed that the search engine can link to new stories on the newspapers' web sites.
In February, Google lost a lawsuit filed by the newspapers and a court ruling forced it to remove headlines and links to news stories posted without the copyright owners' permission on its Google News service and stored in its search engine's cache.
The company behind the world's most-used search engine is still appealing that ruling to clarify what it covers. It claims its Google News service is "entirely legal."
In a joint statement, Google and the newspapers' copyright group Copiepresse now appear to have found a solution for one part of their dispute, deciding that Google could once again reference Belgian French- and German-language newspapers on the search engine as of Thursday.
But articles will not be cached, they said, as the newspapers were using a "no archive" tag to prevent Google from storing copies of older stories that they sell to readers.
They made no mention of Google News but said they were now working together.
"The Belgian French and German-language daily press publishers and Google Inc. intend to use a quiet period in the court dispute to continue their efforts to identify tangible ways to collaborate in the long term," they said.
The Brussels Court of First Instance ruled that California-based Google could not call on exemptions, such as claiming "fair use" because it says Google News reviews press articles when it displays headlines, a few lines of text, photos and links to the original page.
But Google earlier said the court still had not settled the debate on what the ruling covered, claiming it only applied to Google News Belgium and google.be and the company had complied since September.
It was unclear if Google would have to pay retroactive daily fines of EUR25,000 (more than US$32,000) for each day it did not comply.
Copiepresse first cried foul in February 2006, a month after Google launched a Belgian version of Google News displaying content from local newspapers found by its search engine.
The group was also negotiating similar copyright issues with Yahoo and MSN.
Now more and more people can finally see what few of us have been repeating for years: The entire world has its neck squashed by the U.S. boot