What a day for lawsuits. First, Citysearch. Now, Google. A group of Belgian newspapers is suing the search engine for displaying and storing its content.
A copyright organization called Copiepresse says Google is violating Belgian law by keeping archived versions of stories in its search cache program. The group also claims it's illegal for Google to be displaying headlines and excerpts of articles within the Google News service. It's calling on Google to pay $77 million in damages.
This isn't the first time the papers have taken on America's favorite search site. Google lost a similar case, also originating in Belgium, last year. Google had argued its use of the content fell within "fair use." A Brussels court did not agree.
Google isn't commenting on the new case yet. Representatives say they had not received any documents about the suit and cannot respond until they have that information.
I'm sorry, Belgium, but are you kidding me? Believe me, as a writer, I'm all for fair compensation for one's work. But you don't want your data shown on Google? You don't want people to be able to see your content on an immensely popular news and search service? Have you LOOKED at the incoming traffic referrals and seen how many visitors typically click over to a site because of something they saw on Google?
I mean, come on. Seriously.
My suggestion: Once the court nonsense is over, Google removes every mention of the papers from its search and news services with a smile. It goes against the principal a bit, yes. But I think in this case, giving these people what they want will be the most fitting response of all.