Google, Belgian newspapers in new talks over copyright

Google and Belgian newspapers that sued the Internet giant have restarted talks in their copyright dispute, the two groups said on Thursday, although a settlement remained distant.

After several weeks of discussions, Google accepted to include links on its search engine to the site of Belgium French-language newspapers, the two groups said in a joint statement.

Now, for example, when a Google user searches for La Libre Belgique a link to the Belgian daily’s site appears, which was not the case several months ago.

However, articles from the newspapers still do not appear in the Google News section of the search engine in line with a February ruling from a Belgian court.

In that decision, a Brussels court found that the California-based company had "violated copyright" rules and ordered it to remove the papers’ content.

In reaction, Google also stopped providing links to the newspapers’ sites on its Internet search engine, depriving them of traffic.

In their joint statement, Google and newspapers said they had started "a constructive dialogue" and wanted to "take advantage of a legal lull to push ahead with efforts to identify concrete ways of working together in the long term."

Despite the less aggressive tone, the clash was far from being solved.

"A dialogue does not mean that legal procedures are over," Google spokesman Philippe Etienne said.

The company said in February that it would appeal the court’s decision and meanwhile the newspapers are seeking remuneration in exchange for allowing their content to appear in Google News.

Agence France-Presse struck a similar deal with Google last month as US news agency The Associated Press had previously done.

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Google, Belgian newspapers in new talks over copyright