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Copiepresse Upset Ruling On Google Wasn't Visible Enough

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Google Belgium With Legal Ruling

Last week, Google complied with a Belgian court order and posted the ruling against it in a copyright suit on the home page of Google Belgium and Google News Belgium, along with many other places including many search results pages. Now via Google Blogoscoped, news that the plaintiff in the case Copiepresse thinks the ruling should have gone at the top of the Google News Belgium page, rather than the bottom.

An article about the issue in Dutch is here. I don't speak Dutch, sadly, consigning me to AltaVista Babelfish, which translated a key part as:

That happened also, but on the start page of Google news, the topicality part of the site, stands the sentence entirely below. And that does not like Copiepresse.

Anyone hitting Google Belgium couldn't have failed to notice the beginning of the very long ruling, as the illustration above shows. But over at Google News Belgium, that ruling wouldn't have been seen unless you scrolled to the bottom of the page, past all the stories. That's what Copiepresse seems to be upset about.

The order did require that:

The defendant to publish, in a visible and clear manner and without any commentary from her part

Copiepresse might well be able to argue that on Google News Belgium, the ruling there wasn't clear and visible by being at the bottom of the page.

Of course, putting the long ruling at the top of the page would have been unworkable. The ruling itself didn't allow Google to put anything on the page directing people to see the notice at the bottom since that might have been deemed "commentary" about the ruling.

What next? If Copiepresse presses for more and wins, perhaps Google might have to run the ruling in a column alongside news content.

Frankly, Copiepresse comes across as petty in complaining here. Google already had a good argument that publishing the ruling was unnecessary given the wide press coverage the ruling had gained, though the court was not convinced and required the ruling to go up anyway. After that happened, coverage of Google's loss was only magnified. The point was made very publicly.


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