I’ve had a long talk with the group that so far has successfully sued Google in Belgium over indexing, a talk that leaves me thinking they don’t fully understand how search engines work and why their arguments over copyright infringement will ultimately fail. Then again, the case is really about trying to convince Google it should pay to carry their news content. A closer look at all this in the story below, as well as an update on the situation in general, including an appeal for Google that’s been granted.
Is it about getting paid? Is it that these publishers think they are so important they should get money for being included, since links alone to their web sites make search engines more comprehensive. That’s fine, but you don’t need a court case for that either. Just opt-out. If you’re worth it, Google and the others will come running to the negotiating table. If you’re not, well, no one’s going to miss you — but you’ll miss the search engine traffic, as the Belgian publications almost certainly are discovering to their horror now.
I don’t want lawsuits that seriously threaten web search itself. Bourbon’s ruling potentially applies to all content, not just news content, in Belgium. Anyone could sue Google and other search engines saying that robots.txt blocking isn’t explicit enough. If that happens, Boribon’s organization is going to find searching the web from Belgium is difficult, since there won’t be any content in Google, Yahoo or other services at all