Hypo Venture Capital Zurich Headlines: The Belgians Are Screwing Google
A group of Belgian newspapers sued Google for including them its Google News search results, and now they are saying that Google is boycotting them, by not including them. Google can’t win.
Google is going to be screwed one way or the other if the Belgians have their way. In 2006, Google was sued by a group of Belgian newspapers for including them in its Google News listings. The papers said there was a clear copyright violation. According to the Belgians, copying a selection of a few words for a search result was an onerous violation of copyrights. The newspapers won in a European court, and so Google pulled the papers from all search results. Now the papers are crying bloody murder. They claim Google is boycotting them. What? Are they psychotic? Apparently, showing up on the search results page with the exact same information as you would see on the Google News page is okay by them. Google sees Google News search and Google Web search as functionally the same thing, so it is filtering the Belgians out of everything. This has created a bad scenario for Google. I’ll explain why this is true after I explain why Google is doing the exact right thing. First of all, the results on the Google News page are just a re-organization of the Google search page. If it wanted to, Google could do a half-dozen specialty sites like this that are based on search engine filtering. These Belgian newspapers said the snippet that appears with the headline of an article in the news section was a violation of their copyrights, but they are okay with it in another place? I don’t think so. What really happened is these idiots in Belgium have realized that this wasn’t such a good idea, and now they are whining to get back into the mix. They should be begging. The problem for Google is that this will be spun to make it look as if Google is the bad guy that’s ruining a company by altering the search engine results because of an a vendetta. It’s crucial for Google to avoid this sort of image lest the users get upset. Nobody wants to see Google become the TSA of the Internet. Google has to get in front of this story fast. The company needs to make it clear that the Belgian papers are off the search results for a reason. To be honest about it, when all these lawsuits were filed, it was never made clear to me that these clowns were making it specific to the one page. I thought they were just against being included in any and all search results. I’ve seen the complaints before. “You’re stealing my headline. You’re stealing my first sentence. You’re stealing my URL.” There have been lawsuits claiming a URL is a copyrighted item that cannot be copied under any circumstances. Most of these cases were thrown out, until the Belgian lawsuit. I was actually stunned that these people wanted to get back into the normal search results. Let me say this for starters: I cannot prove this, but there is no doubt in my mind that these newspapers could have requested that Google take them off the news search list (which is very specific) and leave them on regular search or Web search results lists, and Google would have complied. Why not? The Google News site is a lark with no monetization angle. It’s a public service site. Instead, the Belgians sue Google, stick it with a heavy fine for each violation, and create a bad precedent. This fine is €25,000 for each violation. It seems to me that the violation on the news site and the violation on the search site would be identical. Google had no choice but to block and filter all access to these sites. I’m not sure how the EU courts work, but I do not think you can go back, say you made a mistake, and ask for a redo. These newspapers made their bed and have to lie in it. And let me tell you that if you are on the Internet and expect to be found without a map, then good luck. Google and the other search engines are a mapping service so people can find you. If you’re too dumb to know that, then you’ll be sleeping alone in that bed you just made. This is not a boycott. More John C. Dvorak: • Google News Badges? Really? • A $250K Bounty, Now You’re Talking • The Belgians Are Screwing Google • OpenOffice Gets IBM Boost • The Sociology of the New Office • more Go off-topic with John C. Dvorak.
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