Google Collides With Belgium. Belgium Unscathed.

Oh, this is an interesting one!

A Belgium court ruling threatens to undermine Google News. The court ruled that Google was breaking the law by including headlines and links to stories published by the press in Belgium. If the rest of Europe follows this example, then this is bound to be painful for Google.

This excerpt hits the nail on the head, and strikes at the very heart of the Google model:

We are asking for Google to pay and seek our authorisation to use our content … Google sells advertising and makes money on our content

The Google business model relies on the huge margin that exists around free content. Google would no doubt argue that it is sending traffic to content providers, therefore a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship exists. Both correct, of course, but most of the power and profit in that relationship probably rests with Google.

The danger for Google is that all official news sources will want a bigger slice of the pie. If Google can do a deal with some of them, then they may have to do deals with all. Which will cost.

A spokesman said the company believed the case was “entirely unnecessary”. “Google has a clear policy of respecting the wishes of content owners. If a newspaper does not want to be part of Google News … all they have to do is ask,” he added.

It will be very interesting to see how far this one will go…

  1. dburdondburdon09-19-2006

    Pan-European Issues

    The Belgian judge relied upon European law when making his decision. That means all 25 EU countries could come to the same conclusion.

    My guess is that many news websites will picking up the phone to renegotiate with Google.

  2. Peter Da VanzoPeter Da Vanzo09-20-2006

    Indeed.

    People who use Google News do so in order to visit a collection of known news sources and alt news. I doubt people will remain just for alt news. What is the usage level of Google Blog Search, for example?

    One or two newspapers dropping out wouldn’t affect Google, but a few hundred surely would.

  1. Link Dunkin’!09-19-06

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