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Publishers Want to Have Their Google and Eat it too.

According to Legal IT, newspaper group Copiepresse, a consortium of top German, French and Belgian publications, is embroiled in a love/hate lawsuit with Google. The consortium argues that by directing people past home pages, containing the majority of the consortium’s advertising, Google is costing Copiepresse revenue. Copiepresse is also upset that Google caches, or stores, old Copiepresse stories, undermining the consortium’’s ability to charge readers for access to the archived content. Copiepresse argues such caching constitutes copyright infringement. Google argues it’s use is fair use.

Last month, a Belgian court ruled against Google, primarily because Google, alleging it was unaware of the suit, failed to defend itself. This case is particularly interesting because, since 1994, Google has allowed content providers to “opt-out” of Google indexing by placing the phrase “NOARCHIVE” in the page code. Copiepresse argues that they do not want to exclude their content from Google, but instead want Google to pay for the privilege of indexing Copiepresse content.

In the United States, such arguments have fallen on deaf ears. While the Copiepresse case will likely settle, the parties have only until November 23rd to resolve their differences, before the court takes the decision out of their hands. If the court, rather than the parties, decides this case, it may change the face of search engines forever.

Brett Trout

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