Google has reached an agreement with news publishers in Belgium after six years of litigation. Publishers sued Google claiming they violated their copyright by displaying snippets in Google News and linking to cached copies of their pages in Google search.
This, as you may know, is a pretty standard fight for Google from country to country, as publishers seek more money for their content throughout the world. Some countries in Europe have proposed laws that would require Google to pay publishers to license content for this purpose, something Google is obviously completely against. In Brazil, publishers have pulled out of Google News on their own.
In Belgium, they've worked things out.
"We have reached an agreement that ends all litigation and represents great news for both us and the newspapers," said Thierry Geerts, Managing Director, Google Belgium. "We continue to believe that our services respect newspaper copyrights and it is important to note that we are not paying the Belgian publishers or authors to include their content in our services."
Google will advertise its services on the publishers' media, and publishers will optimize their use of AdWords, Google says, adding that it will work with Belgian French-language publishers to help increase publishers' revenue, collaborating on way to make money with Paywalls and subscriptions, and with AdSense and the AdExchange. Google says it will also work with publishers to implement Google+ social tools, including Hangouts on news sites, and launching YouTube channels. Finally, Google and publishers will collaborate on the distribution of original content on tablets and smartphones.
"This agreement comes at an important moment, in the midst of a debate how best the newspaper industry should adapt to the new digital age," says Geerts. "As the Economist recently reported under the enticing headline, Letting the Baby Dance, many governments including Ireland, the Netherlands, Australia, UK and Canada are considering or have gone ahead with Internet-friendly copyright reforms. At the same time, some European countries including Germany and France are considering an extension of copyright protection to excerpts of newspaper articles appearing in search engines’ results. The European Journalism Centre recently outlined why both Google and newspapers would be best off cooperating and The Reach Group published independent research reaching a similar conclusion."
"We agree," he adds. "Many win-win ways exist for Google and publishers to join forces in the new digital universe. We drive traffic to publishers - four billion clicks a month around the globe, offering publishers 100,000 business opportunities per minute. Our AdSense program pays out $7 billion a year to web publishers worldwide. Publishers remain free, with the addition of just a few lines of code, to pull out of Google web search and Google News. Publishers also remain free to determine whether to put their articles discovered through Google search behind a paywall."
Google has indicated it would like to come to similar terms with publishers around the world.