Brussels court rules Google violated copyright laws

A court in Brussels has ruled that Google violated copyright laws by publishing links to articles from Belgian newspapers without permission.

The case, legal experts told the "New York Times," could have broad implications in Europe for the news indexes provided by search engines.

"As the first decision to condemn a search engine for indexing news articles, you can be sure publishers around the world are paying attention," Cyril Fabre, a lawyer in Paris at Alexen, a law firm specializing in Internet law and intellectual property, told the "Times." He said the implications in Europe are particularly strong because copyright law is so uniform across the continent.

Google, which operates the dominant Internet search engine, was ordered by the court to pay $32,600 for each day it displayed content from the plaintiff publications in violation of copyright.

The group that brought the case, Copiepresse, manages copyright issues for more than a dozen Belgian newspapers, most published in French.

Google believes that pointing to content on the Web is legal under copyright law. American legal experts said the decision would have no direct impact in the United States; but if upheld, it could result in headaches for Google on both sides of the Atlantic.