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Belgian Newspapers Sue Google For Copyright Damages

Belgiun newspapers want Google to pay $77 million for violating their copyrights by reprinting headlines and linking to their stories.

Newspapers in Belgium want Google to pay for copyright infringements since a Belgian court ruled that the search engine violated copyrights by reprinting headlines and sentences on Google News.

Members of the Belgian press are seeking about $77 million in damages for use of the material. Google launched its news page service in Belgium in 2006. Soon after, papers there sued the company to stop it from linking to their articles.

The group representing the Belgian plaintiffs said members the press want readers to link to stories from their home pages, stay on their sites, and generate more page views -- rather than linking from Google News, where they are more likely to jump around from one news source to another.

The court ruled in favor of the press, saying that the articles should not appear unless the companies agreed to participate in Google News. Google removed articles and photographs and caches (which the plaintiffs also successfully argued violated copyrights) until some publications requested restoration of some links.

A second court reaffirmed the first court's ruling in January 2007. Google appealed and began trying to negotiate a settlement before the publishing group, Copiepresse, filed the latest claim. The claim includes a request for information on how many readers accessed the news reports through Google News since 2001.

Google still denies that it has violated copyright protections by publishing headlines and short blurbs from other outlets. The company has disputed the originality of the headlines in court by citing headlines it claims reflect common language, not creativity.

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