In what seems to me to be a petty display of childishness, Google has refused to post at its own Websites in Belgium the news of a recent defeat it suffered in a Belgian courtroom. In contrast to the thousands of other news items that are automatically Hoovered on to its News page on a daily basis, Google claimed that the news had been so widely reported that reporting it at its Belgian news site was unnecessary and "disproportionate."
The New York Times, which has been reporting regularly on the subject, reported yesterday in two related stories (the second one is here) that the judge in the suit rejected Google's contention.
The dispute itself relates to whether the thumbnail images, headlines and news summaries that Google reproduces at its Google News site violate the copyright of the news content owners to which it links. I blogged on this issue a few days ago, in the context of a recently announced settlement between Google and the Associated Press, under which the AP will allow Google to continue to display its content, although at a new area of its site, and subject to an agreement between Google and AP the terms of which have not been disclosed.
The Belgian dispute is more serious, because Google has already agreed to honor the rest of the Belgian court's order, and is no longer digesting news from three French-language Belgian newspapers at its two Belgian news sites. And in a similar law suit brought by Agence France-Press in the Washington D.C. District Court, AFP is seeking $17.5 million in damages for copyright damages; Google contends instead that its news snippets fall under the fair use doctrine.