Google has taken steps to settle the Belgium lawsuit
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Google has decided to settle with SOFAM and SCAM, two of the Belgian newspapers groups having sued the company for using excerpts from their articles in the Google News Belgium service.
SOFAM, a group representing the rights of photographers and SCAM, a group representing journalists, had joined Copiepresse which had decided to take legal action against Google in February, arguing that Google should have signed agreements with the Belgium newspapers for using snippets of and links to newspaper stories.
After the hearing in August 2006, a ruling obliged Goggle to remove the links to the Belgium newspapers sites from its Google News service threatening the company with a 1 million euro fine in case of non-compliance.
On 24 November 2006, during the re-hearing asked by Google, the company reached a settlement with SOFAM and SCAM. Jessica Powell, a spokeswoman for Google stated: "We reached an agreement with SOFAM and SCAM that will help us make extensive use of their content," but did not give any details on the agreement nor did she say whether similar agreements would be signed with other plantiffs.
She also added : "Google respects copyright law, which we believe lies at the heart of the creative process. As today's agreement demonstrates our approach is to work in partnership with content creators and owners".
Although Goggle lawyers argued that the company did not break any copyright law as it it only showed a link, headlines and a few lines from the articles, Copiepress said Google affected the authors of the articles because it gave away archived articles that authors sell.
A ruling on the hearing is expected in early January.
Google partially settles Belgian copyright case (27.11.2006)
Google settles copyright dispute with 2 groups in Belgium (24.11.2006)
EDRI-gram: Belgium says no to Google news (27.09.2006)