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September 23, 2006

Google Belgium Homepage, Dreadfully Sad

Google finally complied to Belgian's court order completely. After removing several sites from and Google News, they show the text of the court order on

"Also order the defendant to publish, in a visible and clear manner and without any commentary from her part the entire intervening judgment on the home pages of '' and of '' for a continuous period of 5 days within 10 days of the notification of the intervening order, under penalty of a daily fine of 500,000,- € per day of delay."

Google Belgium homepage now looks like a big wound on the face of the Internet.


  1. In clear words, want to explain what this means?

  2. Let me try :

    "After a hearing on 5th september 2006, the court of Brussels of "first disposition" made the following condemnation : blablablablabla..."

    The funny thing is that only the first sentence is in Dutch, while the other lines are all in French. As you might know, Belgium has 3 official languages : French (50%), Dutch (45%) and German (5%).

  3. Belgium Court must have been too extreme to have Google show the verdict on the homepage. The is the property of Google, after all. The most the court should get involved is to demand Google to remove the Belgium contents from Google News. That's it.

  4. I think its a good thing.
    Google is still the best search engine, with their clean simple interface, and now this giant block of text showing them how their government wants to limit their access to information. I know most people will not read the whole thing. Im angered by it, and im not even in belgium.

  5. Belgian Court stated that the copyright of news articles of newspapers belong to the newspapers. Google is not allowed to put them on its news site without prior consent. This is the law and even Google has to respect it. Furthermore it is normal that the verdict has to be published in the way the court decides.

    Except the 4 million French speaking Belgians nobody else in this 6 billion + world may read this. And most of the readers wont care. So don't be angered, it will be forgotten soon. And the world will keep on Googling

    And Svekke is right about the three official languages in Belgium but their importance is different: about 60% speak Dutch, about 40% speak French and <1% speak German. Possibly I am 1% or 2% wrong but not more.

  6. If you search for Belgium languages in Google, you'll find:

    "Languages: Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%"

    You say:
    "Belgian Court stated that the copyright of news articles of newspapers belong to the newspapers. Google is not allowed to put them on its news site without prior consent."

    Of course the copyright belongs to the newspapers, but Google didn't reprint the content of their articles on Google News. They just show the headline and a small excerpt, the same as in Google Search. So there's no difference between Google Search and Google News.

  7. Well, Belgium likes to stand as a kind of "world defender". You might remember some stories about its "universal competency law" and the Sharon case. This has nothing to do but at the same time has a lot to do with it.
    There is also a very strong corporatism in the press industry, as well as a total lack of understanding of the IT from the political class.

    I would agree with this case would the belgian press industry propose an alternative solution, but there is none. Besides getting of course a subscription on each of these newspaper's web site.


  8. I read WAN (World Association of Newspapers) President Gavin O'Reilly understands the advantage that Google is delivering visitors to news papers sites, but argues that Google aggregates more and more. As you guys here probably know, it's Googles mission to (you may skip this) 'organize the world's information and make it universally accessable and useful'. That includes all news - not only its headline, a description and photo.

    What I guess is that Google is working very hard to create a content payment system. Wikipedia doesn't pay users and I think that's why it did not became a revolution. It's simply impossible to NOT pay content makers. Creativity is the only thing we have more than upcoming robots! With all feed readers and Google progresses with Artificial Intelligence, we need to know who made what. Or is Google moving the world to an utopia where robots with the same creative mind care about us? Could be, but as most humans are still a LOT smarter, pay them for doing the thinking.

    I see the [url=]WAN talked about paying the news papers[/url]. Let's hope this is not what Google is aiming for. We need to get rid of those old, pillarized organisations. Which includes also tv channels, radio, all government arranged entities and even... bussinesses (like Sony, MS.. Google). There are other ways than hierarchies to get something done. Better. More Creative. Like Google, but even more open and transparant.

  9. This statement is really amazing. Ok! we can discuss whether Google indexation in Google News and in is legal in regard of the Belgian law or not! But that only involves the Belgian Chamber.
    Publishing on the web assure you to be indexed. But Google indexation's robot lets webmasters prevent Google from indexing site or archieving webpages (using meta-data). So the court of Brussel forced Google to do whethefore the webmaster and therefore Copypress accountable is.

    So what did the judge want? Making free advertisement for "Le Soir" (Copypress)? Or attacking directly and personnally Google? Or playing on decreet times to make Google pay Copypress (it took 9 days for Google to receive the court statement) ? Particularly when Google learned this proceeding when they received the court statement... We can therefore wonder about the partiallity of the court.

    Today is "" no more in the Google Index. So anybody which want to find the adress of the website with the most used search engine won't find any website from Copypress papers. What a good publicity!!! (and they deserved it)

  10. This guy makes a good point. So the court ruling on this case can be (nay, is ordered by the court to be) published on Google Belgium, but any coverage on this story by the Belgian press will be nowhere to be found. To me, there seems to be an underlying bias against Americans here, and maybe it's not so subtle.