Google Inc., the world’s most-used Internet search engine, reached a settlement with Belgian photographers and journalists in a copyright dispute over how Google’s news service links to newspaper content.
The agreement with the Belgian copyright groups Sofam, representing about 3,700 photographers, and Scam, on behalf of journalists, follows Google’s loss in September in the suit initially filed by Belgian newspapers. While it appeals the ruling, the company has removed links to 17 papers from its Google News page.
Copyright disputes with Google compelled Microsoft Corp. to remove Web site links to Belgian newspapers last month and highlight the global issue of whether traditional copyright protections apply to Internet search services. If Google’s appeal fails, it may lead the company to seek permission from other news sources to create Google News links to their sites.
“We reached an agreement with Sofam and Scam that will help us make extensive use of their content,” Jessica Powell, a spokeswoman for Google, said in a phone interview today. She declined to comment on the details of the agreement and whether it involves paying the groups for the content.
Google argues that using headlines and text fragments with links to newspaper Web sites on Google News is legal. Copiepresse, a group representing French- and German-language newspapers, claims search engines should seek permission before using their content. A Brussels court today heard arguments in the case from groups that remain in the lawsuit.
Powell declined to say whether Mountain View, California- based Google is considering similar accords with the newspapers.