Google appears to have suffered a major defeat, as a Belgian court ruled Tuesday that the internet giant violated that country’s copyright law when it linked and published portions of articles from Belgian newspapers on its news site without prior authorization. At least initially, Google is unbowed and said it plans to appeal.
In the case brought by press consortium Copiepresse, Google has been ordered to remove the material and pay a fine of $32,500 a day, the WSJ reported. So far, the fine amounts to roughly $4.4 million and counting. The court cut a retroactive daily fine of $32,390 for each day Google did not comply — far lower than an earlier judgment that threatened $1.3 million a day, according toAP .
Since Google removed content and links to Copiepresse newspapers such as Le Soir and La Derniere Heure in September, it is unclear how much any total fine would be. The AP reported that Google would not comment on the fine, saying its lawyers were still examining the judgment, but did say it was disappointed with the ruling and would appeal. Google said its service actually does newspapers a favor by driving traffic to their sites. And, in some quarters of the Belgium press, some believe the decision will backfire and that newspapers could lose readers as print newspaper circulations continue to decline, the UK’s Telegraph reported.