As sites look for new ways to gather content without overseeing ever step of the process, copyright infringement is going to become more and more of an issue. Today Google News was found guilty of copyright infringement due to tidbits from Belgian newspapers being published on it's website.
This news could open the door for several similar lawsuits and limit the ability of search engines in Europe to display copy written material on their sites at all.
This new verdict upholds a decision made by a Brussels court in the past that required Google to remove news content from Belgium's French- and German-language newspapers from its site. The papers argued that Google profited unfairly by posting short snippets of their stories on its web site. Google appealed that decision but found out today that they were found guilty.
The Belgian newspapers, represented by the trade group Copiepresse, had argued that Google profited unfairly by posting short extracts of their stories on its Web sites. Google appealed the initial judgment and the result of that appeal was announced today.
"Google cannot claim to be an exception under copyright law," the court said in its decision.
Margaret Boribon, secretary general, of Copiepresse, the company representing the paper called the ruling "a very good result for us."
Google lawyers are still looking at the documents as of this morning (Tuesday) and were not ready to make a statement. But sources say Google is obviously disappointed with the decision and plans to file further appeals. Stating that they "believe Google News is entirely legal."
What does this mean for sites like MSN, Yahoo, Digg, Digital Journal and the mass of others that allow users to post snippets from other sources? Is this the end? Does it not seem that by the newspapers news items being picked up by Google News, they actually stand to benefit from the massive influx of traffic that comes from the Google News readers?
It's a ground breaking decision and I'll be very curious to see where this goes in the future. Will other companies jump on the lawsuit bandwagon?