Posted February 13, 2007 10:02 am by with 0 comments

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A Belgian court has upheld an earlier court ruling, preventing Google from displaying items from Belgian newspapers.

The case was brought by Copiepresse, which manages copyrights for Belgium’s French- and German-language newspapers…Copiepresse argues that versions of news articles stored on Google can be seen on its service even after the articles are no longer freely accessible on a newspaper’s Web site.

One silver-lining for Google. The court reduced the fine for violation from around $1m a day to just $25,000. That probably didn’t make Copiepresse too happy, as they were hoping the fine to be substantial enough to bring Google back to the negotiation table.

…Copiepresse would still consider allowing Google to display extracts from the Belgian newspapers for a fee, although said it was up to Google to initiate contact.

It’s all about the money. It’s certainly a growing trend and it will be interesting to see if it becomes a bigger issue for Google. It seems many companies and networks are getting beyond the “ooh, free traffic from Google” stage and entering the “Google’s earning billions off our content, we want a slice of the pie” stage.

It reminds me of the backlash with Wikipedia. The masses helped it to grow, and when they added nofollow to backlinks, many claimed Wikipedia had become arrogant and forgotten who had helped them grow (ok, so mostly me, but others too). Could Google get to the point where content providers wake-up and realize that without their content, Google can’t make the billions of dollars in ad revenue? Could we see a mass opt-out of the Google index? That maybe far-fetched now, but who knows, it might happen in the future.