Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Today we heard that the Belgian court, which last year ruled against us in the Copiepresse case has reaffirmed its original decision. This judgment is clearly disappointing, and we intend to appeal it because we believe that Google.be and Google News are entirely legal and provide great value and critical information to Internet users. However, we are very pleased that the judge agreed Google should be given notice of articles and other material that content owners want removed. As we have in the past, we will honor all requests to remove such materials.
It is important to remember that both Google Web Search and Google News only ever show a few snippets of text. If people want to read the entire story they have to click through to the web publisher's site where the information resides.
Here's a quick summary of the case: Copiepresse represents a number of newspapers in Belgium. It sued Google last August claiming that our search engine and news site breached these publications' copyright. In September, the court ruled in favor of Copiepresse, ordering us to remove these publishers' content from both Google.be and Google News. We complied with that order and also posted the ruling to both home pages.
Today's ruling does not affect the current content of Google News because the websites represented by Copiepresse have already been removed from Google News. In fact, hundreds of news publishers in Belgium and around the world are delighted to be included in Google News because it helps more people find their websites and read their articles. That's why Google receives far more requests for inclusion than requests for removal.
We believe search engines are of real benefit to publishers because they drive valuable traffic to their websites. If publishers do not want their websites to appear in search results, technical standards like robots.txt and metatags enable them automatically to prevent the indexation of their content. These Internet standards are nearly universally accepted and are honored by all reputable search engines. In addition, Google has a clear policy of respecting the wishes of content owners. If a newspaper does not want to be part of Google News, we remove their content from our index—all the newspaper has to do is ask. There is no need for legal action and all the associated costs.