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Belgian court bans Google crawl

A Belgian court has ruled that Google should stop publishing stories by French-language newspapers or face fines of €1m (£675m) for every day the content stays live.

The complaint against Google was lodged by Copiepresse, a company that handles the copyright for the Belgian French- and German-language press. The court ruled that Google was contravening copyright laws by including headlines and links to online stories from the Belgian press in its Google News service.

The ruling could have major implications for Google, and for those media owners who are concerned about their content benefiting the Google brand and boosting its user figures without recompense.

The court also ruled that Google must publish "in a visible and clear manner and without any commentary" the details of the court's judgment on the homepages of google.be and news.google.be for "a continuous period of five days".

Google was also ordered to pay costs of about €1,000.

"We are asking for Google to pay and seek our authorisation to use our content," Margaret Boribon, general secretary of Copiepresse, told Reuters. She added that she is in the process of informing her counterparts in other countries of the court ruling.

Google has said it will appeal against the ruling. Saying it only learned of the judgment last Friday, the search engine confirmed that it had removed any links on its Belgian site pointing to the newspapers concerned, and was in the process of removing them from all its global sites.

Last year Agence France-Presse (AFP) sued Google in France over a similar dispute, claiming that it had removed photo credits and copyright notices. Google subsequently removed all of the agency's content from its network.

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