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Interview with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse About Google.be, by Sean Daly - Updated
Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 10:28 AM EDT

Groklaw's Sean Daly had an opportunity to interview Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse in Belgium about the recent litigation against Google.be. We present the interview in both English and French. It was conducted in French, and the translation was sent to Mme. Boribon, for her approval. Here is the Ogg audio, if you prefer to listen.

As you are aware, recently Copiepresse in Belgium sued Google for copyright infringement on behalf of the authors it represents regarding Google News using headlines and a sentence or so of their material, and on September 5th in an action in which Google had not yet appeared for reasons that are not yet proven to my satisfaction, since we have not yet heard from Google on this point, the court issued an order finding Google guilty. Here's the order [PDF], in French first and then in English. If you don't like PDFs, you can find it here in English text and another more comprehensive English version is here. Now Belgian photographers have joined the class action. And the original editors are not yet satisfied. One thing that is bothering them is cache. Apparently they do not accept robot.txt files as a solution.

[Update: 4:30 AM EDT Thurs. - Now Copiepresse is reported to be threatening MSN. The article, in French, says Microsoft is being more cooperative than Google. Also, Pressbanking, which markets Belgian articles, has asked to join Copiepresse in its action. They say they've been harmed by cache, which freely makes available materials they sell. The article has one funny bit. Even if you don't read French, you'll catch it. Look for the name of the multimedia group that has joined Copiepress:

La Sofam (droits d'auteur des photographes), la SAJ (droits d'auteur de nombreux journalistes) et la Scam (droits d'auteur du multimédia) avaient déjà rejoint Copiepresse. Un jugement sur le fond est attendu le 24 novembre. Une information du journal « L'Echo ».

Not everything translates well. Finally, here's a US case where Google's cache was found to be legal, because it was deemed fair use, and because there is an easy opt-out mechanism the plaintiff chose not to use, among other reasons. Here's the ruling [PDF], in which the judge wrote that the plaintiff “attempted to manufacture a claim for copyright infringement against Google in hopes of making money from Google’s standard [caching] practice”.]

To understand the issues, you may find it helpful to read this article, in which The World Association of Newspapers discusses its unhappiness with search engines. The organization announced in January it would launch an offensive against search engines, mentioning Google by name and indicating an interest in receiving money for Google News' using their articles.

Google did not appear in the action prior to the order issuing, but now has decided to fight first in a preliminary appeal, which was unsuccessful. There will be a full hearing on November 24.

The court relied upon an expert, Luc Golvers, who is president of CLUSIB, Club de la Sécurité informatique belge. The court ruled, based on his expert report:

Considering that his research has led him to prove that, while an article is still online on the site of the Belgian publisher, Google redirects directly, via the underlying hyperlinks, to the page where the article can be found, but as soon as the article can no longer be seen on the site of the Belgian newspaper publisher, it is possible to obtain the contents of it via the “Cached” hyperlink which then goes back to the contents of the article that Google has registered in the “cached” memory of the gigantic data base which Google keeps within its enormous number of servers;...

Considering, finally, that it is deducted from the expert’s report that:

- the way in which the Google News presently operates cause the publishers of the daily press to lose control of their web sites and their contents (of the tests conducted by the expert which show the effects of the withdrawal of an article, pages 42 to 67 of the report);

You can see a picture of Golvers in an article highlighting him on the subject of security on Microsoft's website in Belgium, coincidentally enough.

A Brief Robots.txt Tutorial

Here are the instructions for being removed from Google's search engine. Please notice that you have the following choices:

Remove your entire website
Remove part of your website
Remove snippets
Remove cached pages
Remove an outdated link
Remove an image from Google Image Search
Remove a blog from Blog Search
Remove a RSS or Atom feed (i.e., block Feedfetcher)
Remove transcoded pages

So, if a site doesn't wish its material to be found in search engines' cache, here's all it has to do. Place the following in the header of the HTML of the page or pages it doesn't want cached:

META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOARCHIVE"

The next time Google crawls the site, it will honor that instruction. (You need to put the words inside of left and right arrows, but if I do that here, you won't be able to see the words, which is the purpose of the arrows. It's instructions for robots, not for people to read.) If you can't wait for the next time Google stops by, there's an automatic URL removal system.

If you wish not to appear in Google at all, here's all you have to do --create a file that says the following:

User-agent: * Disallow: /

Put it on your root server in one place. You don't even have to put it on every page. In fact that would confuse the bots. It looks for a robots.txt file on every site. Groklaw's, for example, would be found at http://www.groklaw.net/robots.txt. Here are simple instructions.

You can tell the search engine, all search engines, it can't index your content. You can even tell only Google, while letting in MSN or Yahoo or all other search engines. Instead of the User-agent: * say User-agent: Googlebot, if that is your wish.

Because Google's crawler checks for robot.txt first, before crawling a site, that, to me, looks like it is seeking permission. Because if the robot.txt file tells it not to scoop up content, or to extract only certain content, it will obey. So sites need not lose control of their content. If one's goal is money, then robot.txt does not solve one's problem. And it's important to point out that this isn't Google's personal invention or private system. It's a web standard, a specification that webmasters have followed since 1994.

Regarding the issue of jurisdiction, while in the interview she asserts world jurisdiction for Belgian courts, I think that is unlikely to be upheld. Ask yourself this: if any country's courts can assert jurisdiction over Google because it can be accessed over the Internet, and content must be removed that is accessible not only on the regional version of Google but on all of Google, that would mean that China could assert world jurisdiction, and so could Iran and Africa and South America, anywhere. How could any business manage to exist with everyone able to tell it how to run its business and how would it comply with conflicting laws in various places? Jurisdiction is a concept that stands for an orderliness in the law, that you ought to be able to predict where you can be sued, so you can plan your activities with clarity, and that there should be no undue encroachment. Here's an article that explains it. Anyway, France already tried that with Yahoo, and what it got was limited to the French site. Any other resolution threatens not only Google but the Internet itself. Granted that the Internet raised new issues regarding jurisdiction, but the fundamental idea of jurisdiction is fairness. That's why if I do something in New York City that would be against the law in Belgium but not here, they can't normally arrest me, unless there is a treaty in effect that says it can. How would you like it if they could? Would you like to be subject to all the laws of the entire world simultaneously?

However, there are other issues, outside of the litigation, that Mme. Boribon raises that are not as easily answered. I think you will find the interview of interest and I thank her very much for the opportunity to hear her side of the debate. Google was offered the opportunity to comment but declined to do so.

*********************************

September 28th, 2006, 12:00PM Interview
Copiepresse offices, Brussels, Belgium
Interviewer: Sean Daly

00:00

Q: I am here with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse, Brussels. First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to sit down with us. To start off with, could you describe what Copiepresse does, which publications are part of it, what's the organization?

00:21

MB: Copiepresse is a rights-management society for the publishers of the French- and German-language daily press, so we include all the press titles of the Belgian daily French and German newspapers in this organization which has as its primary function to manage reproduction rights via the Reprobel body in Belgium where we represent the daily press, and which also has the mandate of its members to take up court cases whenever their rights are violated, and in addition we are currently putting in place a common platform for managing digital rights of these publishers.

01:09

Q: OK. Common for Belgium.

01:12

MB: Yes. And internationally, as well.

01:13

Q: Ah, internationally, too?

01:14

MB: Yes. Truly the one-stop shop for Belgian press digital rights.

01:22

Q: OK, and that represents roughly how many titles?

01:25

MB: Fifteen titles.

01:26

Q: Fifteen titles. OK. Let's talk about Google a bit, it's today's subject. In the United States, in other countries as well, in general, Google is respected, even admired. They have a motto, "Do no evil". But I believe that you would not agree, that you find that they do evil, could you -- before we get into the details -- could you tell me what is the essence of your point of view concerning Google ?

02:00

MB: Well -- chronologically, let's look at things. Google has existed for several years as a search engine and we never had any problems with Google until the day they created Google News, presenting themselves as an information portal, which was a totally different role compared to their initial role as a search engine. So when this service appeared in Belgium, we made known our viewpoint that for us, there were copyright violations, that they hadn't asked for the proper authorization to be able to use the content, but we have to admit that for Google, the daily French-language Belgian press probably doesn't represent much of anything and so there was really -- they literally ignored us. They hadn't, let's say, accepted the negotiations which we were proposing, and so we indicated that we would go to court. They still didn't react, so we went to court. Since the month of March of this year, the procedure is underway, we asked the judge within the framework of seizure-descriptions to designate an expert (Luc GOLVERS of the Free University of Brussels, president of the CLUSIB, NDLR) to clearly establish what Google's actions were, technically speaking how they deal with taking content, storage, forwarding, links, etc., so all that was described by the expert in a report giving full details which was submitted at the beginning of July. And so, in Belgian law, from that moment on we had one month to act upon the cessation. So even though it was the summer, well, the law is there, so we had to go ahead anyway, we filed the cessation action at the beginning of August, we sent the notification to the United States the classic way these requests are done, and contrary to what Google claimed afterwards, they were indeed clearly informed as of August 14th that a hearing was scheduled for August 28th [29th, NDLR] in Brussels. Therefore --

04:09

Q: That's it, if understood correctly they didn't even show up at the first hearing on August 29th?

04:15

MB: No, they weren't there. So naturally, the judge made a default ruling. And in that case, the opposing party, Google therefore, has the right to oppose the ruling, which they did, they filed an opposition request within a very, very short time frame -- we were summoned the day before for the following morning, before the court again -- it was September 12th we were in court again and that was when Google obviously lied about their information, their level of information. We produced formal proofs that they had all the elements and all the time to prepare their defense, and so their requests to lift the restraining orders for non-publication of the ruling were rejected and the judge validated a calendar for exchanges of conclusions which will bring us to the date of November 24th, when we will have a full hearing of arguments on the substance of the case.

05:19

Q: That's it. Which will be at the Court of First Instance?

05:21

MB: yes, the same court. It's the same court.

05:23

Q: OK. And in fact, I didn't check, but does Google have a subsidiary here in Belgium?

05:31

MB: In fact, they do have a company in Belgium, but it is a sales entity only. Therefore, there is no connection to the contents of the site. They are there to sell advertising only.

05:44

Q: Understood. So, in fact, for legal proceedings, it really is necessary to communicate with the headquarters --

05:47

MB: With the headquarters. There was no other choice. They have at this point, obviously, a law firm working on the case and so, there it is, there is an agreed-upon calendar for exchanging conclusions, and we will see on November 24th what arguments they are going to present because for the moment, we don't see any.

06:12

Q: According to my information, in fact, it was September 5th that Google was sentenced by the court to remove all links towards the press articles by September 18th at the latest, with a penalty of one million euros per day if they didn't, if this wasn't...

06:34

A. Executed.

06:35

Q: Executed, and moreover, and this is something that is often done here in Belgium, in France, in other European countries, to publish the ruling, which they had also refused to do until, I believe, Saturday morning the 23rd.

06:56

MB: What is surprising are the contradictions between the different people who speak for Google, because when the ruling -- the second ruling was handed down, Friday afternoon, journalists called me from America, from all over, telling me "Google refuses to publish the ruling". OK. And the following morning, the ruling was published. So we don't really know who speaks for them, what role they have. Is it the office in Ireland, the European office? Is it the American office? Is it the lawyer? None of that is very clear. They really give the impression of being destabilized concerning this ruling.

07:33

Q: Yes, that's true. It's not my place to speculate, but it is possible that they underestimated the importance of the Belgian procedure.

07:41

MB: Yes, quite right, that's clear. The fact they didn't come to the hearing clearly showed that they really underestimated the importance of the case, and we can say that as far as the media maelstrom which followed, we didn't expect that much. We knew that this would stir things up, but we didn't expect that it would be worldwide and would elicit so much interest from others, from other media. And it's not decreasing, I can say, it is continuing, day in, day out, there are articles, journalists who call, sites asking questions, lawyers... It's not stopping. It is truly an affair of worldwide dimensions now.

08:22

Q: There are -- I think there are subjects which need to be debated: the role of traditional media, their presence on the Internet, the availability of their content. So... well. There could be some people who have the impression that the reason for this litigation is to seek money from Google. For example, they made a deal with the Associated Press -- AP -- recently, they have litigation which has been continuing for some time with the Agence France-Presse. How would you respond to a question like that?

09:12

MB: I would respond in two stages. First, I would say we want the respect of the European legal framework, meaning prior authorization; that this authorization should involve remuneration seems completely logical, since the Google News service constitutes really a loss leader for Google and it's a way for them to generate very, very, very large revenue. So I think that from the outside, I would say, if Google was reasonable, they could understand that we have an interest in coming to an understanding, and doing a fair deal, a win-win deal, because indeed our content without a very good search engine would not be the most efficient thing on the Internet, but their search engine, if all the content producers refuse to go along, is no longer worthwhile either, or much less, in any case. So I think that there is, on their side, an intellectual effort to be made, some reflecting to do, in order to understand that their model is not acceptable for content producers who invest very heavily in what is yet an industry, the press, clearly, in the acquisition of copyrights from journalists, in quality production, in an enormous number of diverse expenditures, and that we cannot accept the loss of control over our content. However, that is exactly what is happening. From the moment your content can be found in the Google cache, you lose control over your content. They can publish it, distribute it... -- You no longer have control. The problem is really right there.

11:01

Q: The heart of the debate Let's talk about content. In my mind, in Google News, when I look at Google News, I see a title, one or two phrases, and the link. But in fact --

11:16

MB: Photos, sometimes, as well.

11:18

Q: Yes. Well, they are small, the photos.

11:20

MB: Yes, but small or large, you need to have the authorization of the copyright holder. That's how it works.

11:28

Q: And in the Google cache -- I didn't check, but is --

11:33

MB: You find the complete article.

11:35

Q: A complete article.

11:37

MB: Oh, yes, yes, quite.

11:37

Q: OK.

11:38

MB: It's really the screen capture of the article. Because we did a test where we withdrew some content, and at that moment, on Google News, we had an error message, and then when we reintroduced the article, it took more than 24 hours to reappear on Google News, and when we shift content to paid archives, we find them entirely for free in the cache. So there is really double damage. The loss of control, and the loss of revenue.

12:14

Q: OK. One could put forth the argument that the way the Internet works, if someone publishes information on the Internet, they imply permission for others to share the information, where to find it, or even to copy a little bit to orient people, etc. Don't you think that there is a risk for the public if search engines are less efficient if they can't access all the information?

12:52

MB: The goal is not that they can't access all the information. We really have to reverse [Google's way of acting with protected works]. We acted in the justice system, for cessation, because we never had a contact person to negotiate a decent agreement.

13:04

Q: OK.

13:05

MB: It's truly a consequence of Google's attitude.

13:08

Q: OK.

13:09

MB: But the objective is not that search engines stop giving access to press content. Not at all. Of course we want search engines to give access. But what's dangererous is to find yourself in a system where Google has nearly a monopoly position and sets the rules, changes the rules whenever they want and the content provider has nothing to say. He has been dispossessed of his content. He has to be pleased because that has possibly generated traffic. Possibly. But that's not the way the information society works as it is desired in Europe. In Europe, the information society must be respectful of people, creators, producers, people who provide quality content, and the legal framework is conceived with that in mind.

14:05

Q: If I understood correctly, when Google was ordered not to index nor provide links to Copiepresse publications, they did in fact do that, and in fact, worldwide, in their Google News --

14:22

MB: No.

14:23

Q: Oh no, in Google News -- ?

14:25

MB: No. In Google News dot BE, indeed, they cleaned out, they removed all the press articles. But if you type Google News dot FR, you will find articles from the Belgian press.

14:37

Q: Is that so? I did a search this morning [September 28th, NDLR], and in the Google News, Google Actualités, and so on, I didn't find -- it's true that it was a rapid search -- I didn't find articles from Belgium. On the other hand, I realized that on Google.be, I no longer found the sites, for example --

14:57

MB: No. That was a retorsion measure.

14:59

Q: I myself am a subscriber to La Libre Belgique for example and I saw that -- and this is a test I did, in fact, at the time I had read the first article in La Libre on this subject, that they were on top of a list of 200, or 2,000,000, I forget, sites found, but that -- that from Google.be, you can't find those sites any longer. However, I did the test from Google.fr and Google.com and I found them at the head of the list.

15:25

MB: Oh yes, quite right. Quite right. And at the content level, you find the content on Google.com and on Google.fr. We have a sheriff officer who notes the infringements every day. For example, concerning the publication of the ruling, they published it Saturday, Sunday they published it, Monday, then Tuesday it wasn't there.

15:48

Q: You don't say.

15:50

MB: Whereas the ruling was five days in a row. And then, it reappeared. And then -- well. We don't know very well how all that works on their side, if it's the automatic aspect which creates errors or if it's a real desire to publish, or not publish, etc., but there is especially, in my opinion, a legal mistake on their side to believe that it is sufficient to clean out Google.be or Google News dot BE. From the moment -- or from Belgium, you can access all the Internet, whether dot FR, dot com, dot whatever you want, the infringement can be noted in Belgium and so it's an illusion to say to yourself that the judge will not have jurisdiction because the content is on Google.com or Google.fr or something else.

16:42

Q: Google could advance the argument that the jurisdiction of Belgian courts applies only to their dot BE domain.

16:48

MB: But no. No. Since jurisdiction is over all infringements which are noted on its territory. And so from a computer in Belgium, you can access Google.fr, Google.com, Google dot Norway, whatever you want. Therefore, the judge is not limited in his field of competence to the dot BE site only. It's an error -- yet another error on Google's part who really, truly don't comprehend the European legal framework.

17:20

Q: I had noticed that, the first day the ruling was published on Google.be, that the text was in a frame with an elevator and that it wouldn't print correctly, and that was, improved upon let's say, the next day or two days later. It is true that, I have been using Google for a number of years, and indeed it is the first time I see a ruling published on the homepage of one of their sites.

17:50

MB: As far as we know, the only judgment against Google concerning copyrights was in the United States about photographs -- porn photos, because it was a paying site and the -- the engine -- the software -- I don't know what to call the Google system had succeeded in passing through the payment filter, and had captured the porn photographs --

18:18

Q: Yes, I recall that, it seems to me that --

18:22

MB: They were convicted.

18:24

Q: there were a number of discussions over the size of the images displayed by Google.

18:26

MB: Yes. Yes, because claiming that if it's the size of a thumbnail, it's not a real photo. When you're the photographer, that's not a language which is easily acceptable.

18:42

Q: OK then. Before, you spoke about a retorsion measure Google has taken against the member sites of Copiepresse. Has the traffic towards these sites changed as a consequence of their disappearance from Google.be ?

19:03

MB: I can say that the hypermediazation of the affair has perhaps compensated a loss of traffic coming from Google, and direct traffic towards these sites because we haven't, for the moment, a catastrophic situation.

19:21

Q: OK. You don't have the webmasters calling, saying --

19:28

MB: Yes, yes, the webmasters are not happy, because they are incentivized by click, so evidently, for them, whatever brings traffic to their sites is important, but we informed our teams, explaining that it was a battle on principles, probably a long haul, but that we weren't alone, and that's what will appear in the days and weeks to come. The other content producers, radio stations, TV, as well as the press agencies or magazines or others, will join with us in this action, and from different countries too. So at this time, it is clear that we are arm-wrestling; we are arm-wrestling Google. As long as this remains the daily Belgian newspapers, they can hope to -- to break us. From the moment there will be the French press, the German press, the Dutch press, the journalists, the authors themselves, the photographers, etc. -- that, that is likely to start a real discussion in depth and the obligation for them to call into question their economic model.

20:45

Q: Just so, following Google's sentencing, in mid-September, the World Association of Newspapers a announced a new technical initiative they call Automated Content Access Protocol ou ACAP which will facilitate spidering of media sites. For you, is that going in the same direction?

21:14

MB: Completely. Completely. The reflection we have been having, started within the WAN last year because -- before launching Google News dot BE they had already launched Google News dot FR, they had already started in other countries, so we knew that the Agence France-Presse had started proceedings. Therefore we were following these issues and the WAN really took hold of these issues, Gavin O'Reilly, the president, made a truly remarkable presentation last November and he really tried to render comprehensible to publishers the world over that it was a very, very important battle for our whole sector, that the objective was not to break Google or kill them off, but to propose an equitable partnership to them. A fair deal. And so since Google wouldn't stop saying that there were technical problems, it was difficult to ask for authorizations, etc., the WAN chose Rightscom which is a consulting firm, which has publications on the Internet also, to study this famous prior authorization platform for search engines, and for other Internet users. The problem is, it's complicated and heavy work, and it will take time to be developed, tested, etc. And moreover, even if all the steps succeed, we don't know today what it will cost publishers to implement this technology. Will it be reasonable in light of the receipts it can generate, etc. All that is a bit mysterious at the moment. The development costs today can be counted in dozens of thousands of euros, even hundreds of thousands of euros if you really want to do a full-size test. So, it is necessary, at a certain point, that there be an equitable and reasonable business model. So we totally support this step, but it will take time, and we didn't want, in failing to act, to give Google a feeling of fait accompli.

23:34

Q: OK.

23:35

MB: Because their theory has always been to say: we take, and if you don't agree, you have to contact us, and we will then remove your content. But if you enter into that logic, you admit that it's normal what they do. So we said "No". That's not how it works. It's you who has to come to us to request authorizations, and possibly pay us, or negotiate a sales agreement, which could take any form you choose; it could be sharing advertising receipts, it could be a joint-venture with a common entity -- everything is possible. Everything is possible. But it's in this sense that it should work. And since they did not respond, legal action was imperative, was necessary to say that we had indicated that we did not agree. And the advantage is, if this ruling is confirmed at the end of November, it will become European jurisprudence.

24:30

Q: Oh, as well.

24:31

MB: Oh yes. Quite possibly. Because all copyrights are regulated at the European level by the directive which applies to the 25 countries [EUCD, NDLR]. So from that moment on, the judges of all the other countries wil have this reference, this jurisprudence as reference.

24:47

Q: Do you believe that you will be systematically, necessarily before the Court, or do you think there is still time for Google to sit down at a table with you and negotiate?

25:00

MB: Of course there is time. Yes. But we haven't heard anything yet. So I don't know if they are mulling it over, or if they are blocked, or -- nothing is clear for the moment.

25:13

Q: You could say for example, if I play devil's advocate, I am with Google, I can say, well in fact, there have existed since the dawn of the Internet as we know it in the 1990s, systems for search engines, for spiders, the famous robots.txt which you can place on a site, or the metatags which allow it at page level. In addition, Google, for example, has a procedure where, upon request, a media organization can be delisted rapidly. So, in fact -- they are actually rather simple to implement, these methods, but for you, the idea is --

26:06

MB: They are not acceptable.

26:08

Q: -- This is not a way to work?

26:10

MB: This is not acceptable. No. No, no. We cannot choose between being dispossessed of our content or erased. It is not acceptable. It is not Google who can make the laws governing our content. That is not acceptable. And all the standards and techniques they use, as brilliant as they may be, are techniques which belong to them, but which have no legal value. None whatsoever. They are not standardized, they have no legal status, there is no law which says: if you are not opposed, it's normal that we take; there is no law which says that.

26:52

Q: There is no jurisprudence over their opt-out?

26:56

MB: No. Their opt-out, it's their own strategy but it has no legal basis.

27:04

Q: Finally, the robots.txt, the metatags, they are common to all search engines --

27:09

MB: That's not a reason to say that -- that they constitute a legal basis. I mean, it's just something which is technologically proven, which works well. And let me remind you what I said to you at the beginning of the interview: as long as they behaved as a search engine, we never had the slightest reproach or the slightest difficulty. It was the launching of the Google News service, presenting themselves as an information portal, which started our actions, those of the WAN, and that of the AFP. It's not the search engine we blame. It's a fabulous tool, we completely agree. Now, I would say, as a citizen, leaving aside the problems of copyrights, of my members, etc. -- as a simple citizen, I have difficulties when I find myself facing a monopoly, a near-monopoly such as this one, because the influence that can have in terms of indexing or non-indexing of information, it's not neutral -- politically, globally, it is frankly not neutral. I mean, the attitude of Google and other search engines to the Chinese government accepting censorship, or selling keywords or ad pages to the National Front... where are the ethics in all that? I want to say that I don't particularly want Google to lay down worldwide law on the Internet. That's not OK. There have to be alternatives. There has to be fair competition. There has to be respect for content and the legal frameworks of the different parts of the world. Google cannot self-proclaim itself Emperor of the Internet. It's not possible. There are major political consequences in all that.

29:09

Q: So, for you, is this Google versus the publishers, or for you, there is, with Google, really a threat in a larger sense to the availability of information, to the classification of information?

29:22

MB: Absolutely. Absolutely. That's clear. The seizure by Google of Internet search has major political consequences. Numerous lawyers have contacted us at this point saying indeed, if tomorrow Google decides that leftist publications should no longer appear, they can do that. Or no more publications in a certain language. Or no more -- they can decide the rules and the manner of classifying information, to make it appear first on the list or last... they are the masters of that. And that is nevertheless dangerous for the freedom of information, access to information... they present themselves as Robin Hood, offering everything free to the great mass of the population, they are fabulous, etc... but it's not true. They are not an NGO. This isn't -- they are not there to -- they are not a foundation. They make gigantic profits. They are listed on the stock market, they have lost a lot of money already now with this affair, their stock price has already gone down. They are not philanthropists. They are businessmen. And so, in principle, with businessmen, we should be able to find a common ground. But obviously, since their model has worked like that for a certain amount of time, it is difficult for them to question it. That much is clear. And that's why we need to create solidarity and coherence between content producers, not just the written press but radio, television, magazines and others, so there can be a common front.

31:20

Q: Madame Margaret Boribon, I thank you very much for this interview.

31:22

MB: It is I who thanks you.

31:23

Q: Have a good day, au revoir.

**********************************

September 28th, 2006, 12:00PM Interview
Copiepresse offices, Brussels, Belgium
Interviewer: Sean Daly

00:00

Q: Je suis avec Margaret Boribon de Copiepresse, Bruxelles. Tout d'abord, je souhaite vous remercier d'avoir pris le temps de s'asseoir avec nous. Pour commencer, est-ce que vous pouvez décrire ce qui fait Copiepresse, quelles publications en font partie, quelle est l'organisation?

00:21

MB: Copiepresse est une société de gestion de droits des éditeurs de la presse quotidienne francophone et germanophone, donc nous regroupons tous les titres de presse quotidienne belge francophone et germanophone dans cette organisation qui a comme fonctionne première de gérer les droits de reprographie via l'organisme Reprobel en Belgique, où nous représentons la presse quotidienne, et aussi qui a le mandat de ses membres pour agir en justice lorsque leurs droits sont violés et nous sommes en train également de mettre en place maintenant une plate-forme commune de gestion des droits numériques de ces éditeurs.

01:09

Q: D'accord. Commune pour la Belgique.

01:12

MB: Oui. Et pour l'étranger aussi.

01:13

Q: Ah, pour l'étranger aussi ?

01:14

MB: Oui. Vraiment le one-stop shop pour les droits numériques de la presse belge.

01:22

Q: D'accord, et ça représente environ combien de titres?

01:25

MB: Quinze titres.

01:26

Q: Quinze titres. D'accord. Alors on va parler un peu de Google, c'est le sujet du jour. Aux Etats-Unis, dans d'autres pays également, en général, Google est respecté, même admiré. Ils ont une maxime, "Do no evil" -- ne pas faire du mal. Mais je crois que vous ne serez pas d'accord, que vous trouvez qu'ils font du mal, est-ce que -- avant de rentrer dans un peu dans les détails -- vous pouvez me dire quel est le coeur de votre point de vue à propos de Google ?

02:00

MB: Mais -- chronologiquement, prenons les choses. Google existe depuis quelques années comme moteur de recherche et nous n'avons jamais eu de problème avec Google jusqu'au jour où Google a créé Google News en se présentant eux-mêmes comme un portail d'information, ce qui était une fonction totalement différente de la fonction de moteur de recherche initiale. Donc lorsque ce service est apparue en Belgique, nous avons fait savoir que pour nous, il y avait violation de nos droits d'auteur, qu'ils n'avaient pas demandé les mandats d'autorisation pour pouvoir réutiliser les contenus, mais il faut bien admettre que pour Google, la presse quotidienne francophone de Belgique, ça ne représente probablement pas grand-chose et donc il y a eu vraiment - ils nous ont littéralement ignorés, ils n'ont pas, disons, accepté les négociations que nous proposions et donc nous avons indiqué que nous irions en justice, ils ne sont toujours pas réagis, nous sommes allés en justice. Depuis le mois de mars de cette année, la procédure est en cours, nous avons demandé au juge dans le cadre d'une saisie-descriptions de désigner un expert (Luc GOLVERS de l'Université Libre de Bruxelles, président du CLUSIB, NDLR) pour établir réellement quelles étaient les actes posées par Google, techniquement comment se passait la prise de contenu, le stockage, le renvoi, les liens, et cetera, donc tout ça a été décrit par l'expert dans un rapport tout a fait circonstancié qui a été déposé début juillet. Et donc dans le cadre de la loi belge, nous avions à ce moment-là un mois pour agir en cessation. Donc, c'était l'été, mais, la loi est là, donc nous avons dû quand même intervenir, nous avons introduit l'action cessation début août, nous l'avons fait signifié aux Etats-Unis par la voie classique de signification de ces requêtes, et contrairement à ce que Google a prétendu par la suite, ils étaient bel et bien informé dès le 14 août qu'il y avait une audience prévu le 28 [29, NDLR] août a Bruxelles. Donc --

04:09

Q: C'est ça, j'ai cru comprendre qu'ils n'étaient même pas présent à la première audience le 29 août ?

04:15

MB: Non, ils n'étaient pas là. Donc évidemment, le juge a rendu un jugement par défaut. Et dans ce cas-là, la partie adverse, donc Google, a le droit de s'opposer à ce jugement, ce qu'ils ont fait, ils ont introduit une requête en opposition dans un délai très, très court -- nous avions été convoqué la veille pour le lendemain, de nouveau devant le tribunal, donc le 12 septembre nous nous sommes retrouvés devant la cour et c'est là que Google a menti évidemment sur son information, son niveau d'information. Nous avons produit des preuves formelles qu'ils avaient effectivement tous les éléments et tout le temps de préparer leur défense, et donc leurs requêtes sur la levée des astreintes pour non-publication du jugement ont été refusés et le juge a acté un calendrier d'échanges de conclusions qui doit nous amener a la date du 24 novembre, nous aurons l'audience complète de plaidoirie sur le fond.

05:19

Q: C'est ça. Qui sera au Tribunal de Première Instance ?

05:21

MB: Oui, la même cour. C'est la même cour.

05:23

Q: D'accord. Et en fait, je [ne] me suis pas renseigné, est-ce que Google, ils ont un bureau de représentation ici en Belgique ?

05:31

MB: En fait, ils ont une société en Belgique, mais qui est une entité commerciale uniquement. Donc, il n'y a pas de compétence sur le contenu du site, qui est là pour vendre de la publicité uniquement.

05:44

Q: Entendu. Donc, en fait, pour une procédure judiciaire, il faut bel et bien s'adresser au siège --

05:47

MB: Au siège principal, il n'y avaient pas d'autre choix. Ils ont maintenant, évidemment, un cabinet d'avocats qui traite le dossier et donc, voilà, il y a un calendrier d'échange de conclusions convenu, et on verront (sic.) le 24 novembre quels sont les arguments qu'ils vont présenter parce que pour l'instant, nous n'en voyons pas.

06:12

Q: Selon mes informations, en fait, c'était le 5 septembre que Google était condamné par la cour d'enlever tous liens vers les articles de presse, à la date limite du 18 septembre, avec un pénalité de un million d'euros par jour s'il n'était, s'il n'était pas...

06:34

A.Exécuté.

06:35

Q: Exécuté, et également, et c'est quelque chose qui se fait en Belgique ici, en France, dans d'autres pays européens, de publier le jugement, ce qu'ils ont refusé de faire aussi jusqu'à, je crois, samedi matin le 23.

06:56

MB: Ce qui est étonnant, c'est la contradiction entre les différentes personnes qui parlent au nom de Google, puisque quand le jugement -- le deuxième jugement est intervenu, le vendredi après-midi, des journalistes m'ont téléphoné d'Amérique, de partout, en me disant, Google refuse de publier le jugement. OK. Et le lendemain, le jugement a été publie. Donc on ne sait pas très bien qui parle, à quel titre, est-ce que c'est le bureau en Irlande, le bureau européen, est-ce que c'est le bureau américain, est-ce que c'est l'avocat, tout ça n'est pas très clair, ils donnent vraiment une impression de déstabilisation par rapport à ce jugement.

07:33

Q: Oui, c'est vrai. Ce ne sera pas ma place de spéculer, mais il est possible qu'ils ont sous-estimé l'importance de la procédure en Belgique.

07:41

MB: Oui, tout à fait, ça c'est clair. Le fait de ne pas venir à l'audience, c'était clairement vraiment sous-estimer l'importance du cas, et disons que le maelström médiatique qui a suivi, nous ne s'y attendait pas à ce point-là. On savait que ça ferait évidemment des remous, mais on ne s'attendait pas à ce que ça soit mondial et que ça suscite autant d'intérêt de la part des autres, des autres medias. Et ça ne décroît pas, je veux dire, ça continue, tous les jours, tous les jours, il y a des articles, des journalistes qui téléphonent, des sites qui nous posent des questions, des juristes... Ça n'arrête pas. C'est vraiment une affaire d'une ampleur mondiale maintenant.

08:22

Q: Il y a -- je crois qu'il y a quand même des sujets qui doivent être traité : le rôle des médias traditionnels, leur présence sur Internet, la disponibilité de leur contenu, et cetera. Donc... bon. Il peut y avoir des gens qui ont l'impression que la raison de ces litiges, c'est de chercher de l'argent chez Google. Par exemple, ils avait fait une affaire avec Associated Press -- AP -- récemment, ils ont une litige qui dure depuis un moment avec l'Agence France-Presse. Comment vous reprendrez à une question comme ça ?

09:12

MB: Je répondrai en deux temps. Je dirai d'abord nous voulons le respect du cadre légale européen, donc l'autorisation préalable, que cette autorisation fasse l'objet d'une rémunération nous paraît tout à fait logique, puisque le service Google News constitue vraiment un produit d'appel pour Google et que c'est une manière pour eux de générer des revenus très, très, très importants. Donc je pense que de manière extérieure, je dirai, si Google était raisonnable, ils pourrait comprendre que nous avons un intérêt à nous entendre, et à faire un fair deal, un win-win deal, parce qu'effectivement nos contenus sans un très bon moteur de recherche, c'est pas ce qui est le plus efficace sur Internet, mais leur moteur de recherche, si tous les producteurs de contenu leur oppose un refus, n'a plus d'intérêt non plus, ou beaucoup moins, en tout cas. Donc je pense qu'il y a, chez eux, un travail intellectuel a faire, une réflexion a mener, pour comprendre que leur modèle n'est pas acceptable pour les producteurs de contenu qui investissent très lourdement dans ce qui est encore une industrie, en tout cas la presse, clairement, dans l'acquisition des droits d'auteur auprès des journalistes, dans la production de qualité, dans énormément de dépenses diverses, et que donc, nous ne pouvons pas accepter de perdre le contrôle de notre contenu. Or, c'est très exactement ce qui se passe. À partir du moment où vos contenus se retrouvent sur le cache de Google, vous perdez le contrôle de ce contenu. Ils peuvent le diffuser, le distribuer... -- Vous n'avez plus le contrôle. C'est vraiment là que se situe le problème.

11:01

Q: Le coeur du débat. Si on parle de contenu. Moi, j'avais en tête, dans le Google News, quand je consulte le Google News, le titre, une ou deux phrases, et puis le lien. Mais en fait --

11:16

MB: Les photos, parfois, aussi.

11:18

Q: Oui. Enfin, ils (sic.) sont petites, les photos.

11:20

MB: Oui, mais petites ou grandes, il faut l'autorisation de l'ayant droit. C'est comme ça que ça fonctionne.

11:28

Q: Et dans le Google cache -- je ne me suis pas renseigné, mais est-ce, est-ce que --

11:33

MB: Vous trouvez l'article intégralement.

11:35

Q: Un article intégral.

11:37

MB: Ah oui, oui, tout à fait.

11:37

Q: D'accord.

11:38

MB: C'est vraiment la capture d'écran de l'article. Parce que nous avons fait le test de retirer certains contenu, et à ce moment-là sur Google News on avait un message d'erreur, et puis quand on réintroduisait l'article, ça mettait plus de 24 heures à réapparaître sur Google News, et quand nous retirons des contenus pour les mettre en archives payant, on les retrouve intégralement gratuitement sur le cache. Donc, il y a vraiment un préjudice double qui existe. La perte du contrôle, et la perte de revenue.

12:14

Q: D'accord. On peut avancer l'argument que dans le fonctionnement même de l'Internet, si quelqu'un publie des informations sur Internet, on implique une permission de permettre aux autres de partager l'information, d'où il se trouve, ou même de mettre un petit peu pour orienter les gens, et cetera. Est-ce que vous croyez qu'il n'existe pas quand même un risque pour le public si les moteurs de recherche sont moins efficaces s'ils ne peuvent pas accéder a la totalité de l'information ?

12:52

MB: Le but n'est pas qu'ils ne puissent pas accéder a la totalité de l'information. Il faut vraiment renverser [la manière d'agir de Google avec les oeuvres protégés]. Nous avons agis en justice, en cessation parce que nous n'avions pas d'interlocuteur pour négocier un accord correct.

13:04

Q: D'accord.

13:05

MB: C'est vraiment une conséquence de l'attitude de Google.

13:08

Q: D'accord.

13:09

MB: Mais l'objectif n'est pas que les moteurs de recherche ne donnent pas accès aux contenus de presse. Pas du tout. Évidemment, que nous souhaitons que les moteurs de recherche donne accès. Mais ce qui est dangereux, c'est de se retrouver dans un système où Google a quasiment une position de monopole et fixe les règles, change les règles comme ils veulent et le producteur de contenu n'a rien à dire, il est dépossédé de son contenu, il doit être très content parce que ça génère éventuellement du trafic. Eventuellement. Mais ce n'est pas le fonctionnement de la société d'information telle qu'elle est voulue en Europe. En Europe, la société d'information doit être respectueuse des gens, des créateurs, des producteurs, des gens qui fournissent ces contenus de qualité, et le cadre légal européen est conçu dans ce sens-la.

14:05

Q: Si j'ai bien compris, quand Google était ordonné de ne pas indexer et fournir des liens vers les publications de Copiepresse, ils l'ont bien fait, et en fait, au niveau mondial, dans leur Google News --

14:22

MB: Non.

14:23

Q: Ah non, dans le Google News -- ?

14:25

MB: Non. Dans Google News point BE, effectivement, ils ont nettoyé, ils ont enlevé tous les articles de presse. Mais si vous tapez Google News point FR, vous retrouvez des articles de la presse belge.

14:37

Q: Ah bon. J'ai fait une recherche ce matin [le 28 septembre, NDLR], et dans les Google News, les Google Actualités, et cetera, je ne trouvais pas -- il est vrai que c'était une recherche rapide -- je ne trouvais pas des articles de la Belgique. En revanche, je me suis rendu compte que sur Google.be, je ne trouvais plus les sites, par exemple --

14:57

MB: Non. Ça, c'était une mesure de rétorsion.

14:59

Q: Moi, je suis un abonne a La Libre Belgique par exemple et je voyais que -- et c'est un test que j'avais fait, en fait, au moment que j'avais lu la première article dans La Libre à ce sujet-la, qu'ils était en tête de liste parmi 200, ou 2,000,000, j'oublie, sites trouves, mais que -- mais ça, à partir du Google.be, on ne retrouve plus ces sites-là. Mais, j'ai fait le test depuis Google.fr et Google.com et je les trouvais bien en tête de liste.

15:25

MB: Ah oui, tout à fait. Tout à fait. Et au niveau des contenus, vous retrouvez les contenus sur Google.com et sur Google.fr. Nous avons un huissier qui tous les jours constate les infractions. Par exemple, au niveau de la publication du jugement, ils l'ont publié samedi, dimanche, ils l'ont publié lundi, puis mardi, ça n'y était pas.

15:48

Q: Dis donc.

15:50

MB: Alors que le jugement, c'était cinq jours de filée. Et puis, c'est revenu. Et puis -- bon. On ne sait bien très bien comment tout ça fonctionne chez eux, si c'est le caractère automatique qui crée des erreurs ou bien si c'est une volonté réelle de publier, ou pas publier, et cetera, mais il y a surtout, à mon avis, une erreur juridique dans leur chef de croire qu'il suffit de nettoyer Google.be ou Google News point BE. A partir du moment -- où à partir de la Belgique, on a accès à tout l'Internet, que ça soit point FR, point com, point tout ce qu'on veut, l'infraction peut être constate en Belgique et donc il est illusoire de se dire le juge ne va pas être compétent parce que le contenu se trouve sur Google.com ou Google.fr ou autre chose.

16:42

Q: Google pourrait avancer l'argument que la juridiction des cours en Belgique s'applique uniquement à leur domaine point BE.

16:48

MB: Mais non. Non. Puisque la juridiction est compétente pour les infractions qui se constatent sur son territoire. Et donc à partir d'un ordinateur en Belgique, on peut accéder à Google.fr, à Google.com, à Google point Norvège, tout ce qu'on veut. Donc, le juge n'est pas limité dans son champ de compétence au seul site point BE. C'est une erreur de la -- une erreur de plus de la part de Google qui méconnaît vraiment fortement le cadre légale européen.

17:20

Q: J'avais constaté que, le premier jour que le jugement était publié sur Google.be, que le texte était dans un cadre avec ascenseur et qu'il ne s'imprimait pas correctement, et que ça a été amélioré, disons, le lendemain ou deux jours après. Il est vrai que, je me connecte a Google depuis de nombreuses années, et c'est effectivement la première fois que je vois un jugement publié sur la une de leur site.

17:50

MB: A notre connaissance, la seule condamnation contre Google sur des droits d'auteur, c'était aux Etats-Unis par rapport à des photographes -- des photos pornographiques , parce que c'était un site payant et le -- l'engin -- le logiciel -- je ne sais pas comment on appelle le système Google avait réussi à passer à travers le filtre payant, et avaient capturé les photographies pornographiques --

18:18

Q: Oui, ça me dit quelque chose, il me semble que --

18:22

MB: Ils ont été condamnés.

18:24

Q: Il y a eu de nombreuses discussions sur la taille des images affichés par Google.

18:26

MB: Oui. Oui, parce que prétendre que si ça a la taille d'un ongle, ça ne vaut pas comme une photo. Quand vous êtes le photographe, ce n'est pas un langage qui est facilement acceptable.

18:42

Q: D'accord. Toute à l'heure, là, vous avez parlé de la mesure de rétorsion qui a pris Google envers les sites membres de Copiepresse. Est-ce que le trafic vers ces sites a changé en conséquence de leur disparition dans Google.be ?

19:03

MB: Je peux dire que l'hypermédiasation de l'affaire a peut-être compensé une perte de trafic venant de Google, et un trafic direct vers ces sites parce que on n'a pas, pour l'instant, une incidence catastrophique.

19:21

Q: D'accord. Il n'y a pas les webmasters des publications qui appellent en disant --

19:28

MB: Si, si, les webmasters ne sont pas contents, parce que ils sont incentivés par clic, donc évidemment, pour eux, tout ce qui ramène vers leurs sites, c'est important, mais on a fait une information aux équipes, en expliquant que c'était un combat de principe, probablement de longue haleine, mais que nous n'étions pas seuls, et c'est ce qui va maintenant dans les prochains jours, les prochaines semaines apparaître, c'est que les autres producteurs de contenu, les radios, TV, aussi bien que les agences de presse ou les magazines ou d'autres, vont se joindre à l'action avec nous, et venant d'autres pays. Donc a ce moment-là, c'est clair que -- on est dans un bras de fer ; on est dans un bras de fer avec Google. Tant que ça reste les journaux quotidiens belges, ils peuvent espérer nous faire -- nous casser. A partir du moment où il y aurait la presse française, la presse allemande, la presse hollandaise, les télévisions, et cetera, les journalistes, les auteurs eux-mêmes, les photographes, et cetera -- Là, ça risque de poser un vrai débat de fond et l'obligation pour eux de remettre en cause leur modèle économique.

20:45

Q: Justement, le lendemain de la condamnation de Google, au (sic.) mi-septembre, le World Association of Newspapers a annoncé une nouvelle initiative technique qui s'appelle Automated Content Access Protocol ou ACAP qui va faciliter la spiderisation, si c'est un mot -- spidering -- des sites des medias. Est-ce que pour vous, ça va dans le même sens ?

21:14

MB: Tout à fait. Tout à fait. La réflexion que nous avons mené, elle a commencé au sein de la WAN l'année dernière parce que -- avant de lancer Google News point BE ils avait déjà lancé Google News point FR, ils avaient déjà commencé dans d'autres pays, donc on savait que l'Agence France-Presse avait déjà entamé une action. Donc on suivait déjà le dossier et la WAN s'est vraiment saisie de ce dossier, Gavin O'Reilly, le président, a vraiment fait une présentation en novembre dernier tout à fait remarquable et il a essayé vraiment de faire comprendre a tous les éditeurs du monde entier que c'était un combat vraiment très, très important pour tout notre secteur, que l'objectif n'était pas de casser Google ou les tuer, mais de leur proposer un partenariat équitable. Un fair deal. Et donc comme Google n'arrêtait pas de dire qu'il y avait des problèmes techniques, que ça ne marcherait pas, que c'était difficile de demander des autorisations, et cetera, la WAN a mandaté Rightscom qui est une société de consultants, qui a des publications sur Internet aussi pour étudier cette fameuse plate-forme d'autorisation préalable pour les moteurs de recherche, mais pour d'autres utilisateurs sur Internet. Le problème, c'est que c'est un travail compliqué et lourd, et que ça va prendre du temps à être développé, testé, et cetera. Et puis, même si toutes ces étapes sont réussies, on ne sait pas aujourd'hui ce que ça coûtera aux éditeurs d'implémenter cette technologie. Est-ce que ce sera raisonnable par rapport aux recettes que ça peut générer, et cetera. Tout ça est encore un peu mystérieux pour le moment. Les coûts de développement aujourd'hui se chiffrent en dizaines de milliers d'euros, voire centaines de milliers d'euros si on veut vraiment faire un test en vrai grandeur. Donc, il faut quand même que, à un moment donné, il y ait un business model équilibré et raisonnable. Donc nous soutenons tout à fait cette démarche, mais elle va prendre du temps, et nous ne voulions pas, en n'agissant pas, donner à Google un sentiment de fait accompli.

23:34

Q: D'accord.

23:35

MB: Parce que leur théorie a toujours été de dire: on prend, si vous n'étés pas d'accord, vous devez nous contacter, et alors on retire votre contenu. Mais rentrer dans cette logique-là, c'est admettre que c'est normal ce qu'ils font. Donc nous avons dit "Non". Ce n'est pas comme ça que ça fonctionne, c'est vous qui devez venir nous demander les autorisations, et éventuellement nous rémunérer, ou trouver un accord commercial, qui peut prendre n'importe quelle forme ; ça peut être un partage de recettes publicitaires, ça peut être un joint-venture dans un entité commune -- tout est possible. Tout est possible. Mais c'est dans ce sens-là que ça doit marcher. Et comme ils n'ont pas répondu, l'action juridique était impérative, était nécessaire pour dire que nous avons clairement indiqué que nous n'étions pas d'accord. Et l'avantage c'est que, si ce jugement est confirmé fin novembre, ça devient jurisprudence européenne.

24:30

Q: Ah, en plus.

24:31

MB: Ah oui. Evidemment. Puisque tout le droit d'auteur est régulé au niveau européen dans le cadre du directive qui s'applique aux 25 pays [EUCD, NDLR]. Donc à ce moment-là, les juges de tous les autres pays auront cette référence, cette juriprudence comme référence.

24:47

Q: Est-ce que vous croyez que vous serez systématiquement devant la cour -- forcément devant la cour, ou est-ce qu'il y a encore temps pour Google de s'asseoir à une table avec vous et négocier ?

25:00

MB: Bien sûr qu'il y a le temps. Oui. Mais nous n'avons rien entendu jusqu'au présent. Alors je ne sais pas s'ils réfléchissent, ou s'ils sont bloqués, ou -- rien n'est clair pour le moment.

25:13

Q: On peut dire par exemple, si je fais l'avocat du diable, je suis chez Google, je peux dire, bien en fait, il existe depuis l'aube de l'internet tel que nous le connaissons dans les années 90, des systèmes pour les moteurs de recherche, pour les araignées, le fameux robots.txt qu'on peut mettre dans un site, ou les metatags qui permet au niveau de chaque page. De plus, Google, par exemple, ils ont une procédure où par simple demande, une organisation médiatique peut delister rapidement. Donc, en fait -- ils sont quand même simple à mettre en oeuvre, ces méthodes, mais pour vous, l'idée c'est que --

26:06

MB: Ils ne sont pas acceptables.

26:08

Q: -- ce n'est pas une façon de travailler ?

26:10

MB: Ce n'est pas acceptable. Non. Non, non. Nous ne pouvons pas choisir entre être dépossedé de notre contenu ou être effacés. Ce n'est pas acceptable. Ce n'est pas Google qui peut faire la loi sur nos contenus. Ce n'est pas acceptable. Et toutes les normes et les techniques qu'ils utilisent, aussi brillantes soient-elles, sont des techniques qui leur appartiennent, mais qui n'ont aucune valeur juridique. Aucune. C'est absolument pas standardisé, ce n'est pas reconnu légalement, il n'y a aucune loi qui dit, si vous ne vous opposez pas, c'est tout à fait normal qu'on prenne, aucune loi qui dit ça.

26:52

Q: Il n'y a pas de juriprudence sur leur opt-out ?

26:56

MB: Non. Leur opt-out qu'ils ont institué, c'est leur stratégie à eux mais qui n'est basée sur aucune base légale.

27:04

Q: Enfin, le robots.txt, les metatags, ils sont communs à tous les moteurs de recherche --

27:09

MB: Ce n'est pas une raison pour dire qu'ils sont -- qu'ils constituent une base légale. Je veux dire, c'est quelque chose de technologiquement éprouvé, qui marche bien. Et je vous rappelle ce que je vous ai dit au début de l'entretien : tant qu'ils se sont comporte en moteur de recherche, nous n'avons jamais exprimé le moindre reproche ou la moindre difficulté. C'est le lancement du service Google News où ils se présentent comme portail d'information qui a déclenché nos actions, les actions de la WAN et celle de l'AFP. Ce n'est pas le moteur de recherche que nous mettons en cause. C'est un outil formidable, on est tout à fait d'accord. Maintenant, je dirai, en tant que citoyenne, sans même parler de problématiques de droit d'auteur, de mes membres, et cetera -- en tant que simple citoyenne, j'ai quand même une difficulté quand je me retrouve face à un monopole, un quasi-monopole comme celui-là parce que l'influence que ça peut avoir en termes d'indexation de l'information ou du non-indexation de l'information, ce n'est pas neutre -- politiquement, mondialement, ce n'est pas franchement pas neutre. Je veux dire, l'attitude de Google et d'autres moteurs de recherche par rapport au gouvernement chinois qui accepte de censurer, ou qui vendent des mots-clefs ou des pages de publicité au Front National... où est l'éthique dans tout ça ? Je veux dire, moi je ne suis pas nécessairement désireuse que Google fasse la loi mondialement sur Internet. Ça ne va pas. Il faut des alternatives, il faut qu'il y ait une concurrence loyale, il faut qu'il y ait un respect des contenus et des cadres légaux des différentes parties du monde. Google ne peut pas s'autoproclamer empereur d'Internet. Ce n'est pas possible. Il y a des conséquences politiques majeures dans tout ça.

29:09

Q: Est-ce que, pour vous, c'est Google contre les éditeurs, ou est-ce que pour vous, il y a, avec Google, il y a vraiment une menace au sens large de la disponibilité d'information, de la classification de l'information ?

29:22

MB: Tout à fait. Tout à fait. Ça c'est clair. La mainmise de Google sur les recherches sur Internet a des conséquences politiques majeures. De nombreuses avocats maintenant nous ont contacté en disant effectivement, si demain Google décide plus aucune publication de gauche n'apparaît, ils peuvent le faire. Ou plus aucune publication de telle langue. Ou plus -- ils peuvent décider des règles et de la manière de hiérarchiser l'information, de la faire apparaître en première plan ou en dernier plan... Ils sont maîtres de ça. Et ça, c'est quand même dangereux par rapport a la liberté d'information, l'accès a l'information... Ils se représentent comme vraiment Robin des Bois, qui offre tout gratuitement à la grande masse de la population, ils sont formidables, et cetera... Mais ce n'est pas vrai. Ce n'est pas un ONG. Ce n'est pas -- ils ne sont pas là pour faire -- ce n'est pas une fondation. Ils font des profits gigantesques. Ils sont coté en bourse, ils ont perdu beaucoup d'argent maintenant déjà avec cette affaire, leur cotation a quand même déjà bien chuté. Ce ne sont pas des philanthropes. Ce sont des businessmen. Et donc, a priori, avec des businessmen, on devrait pouvoir trouver un terrain d'entente. Mais évidemment, comme leur modèle a fonctionné comme ça pendant un certain temps, il y a une difficulté pour eux à le remettre en cause. Ça, c'est clair. Et c'est pour ça qu'on a besoin de créer une solidarité, une cohérence entre les producteurs de contenu pas seulement de presse écrite mais de radio, de télévision, de magazine et autres, pour qu'il y est un front commun.

31:20

Q: Madame Margaret Boribon, je vous remercie beaucoup pour cet entretien.

31:22

MB: C'est moi qui vous remercie.

31:23

Q: Bonne journée, au revoir.


  


Interview with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse About Google.be, by Sean Daly - Updated | 1084 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here
Authored by: feldegast on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 10:31 AM EDT
If needed.

---
IANAL
My posts are ©2004-2006 and released under the Creative Commons License
Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT here, please
Authored by: Jude on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 10:49 AM EDT
And please make your links clickable.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Language
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 10:50 AM EDT
Sometime the legalese on Groklaw confuses me - but I couldn't make heads nor
tails of this one ;>

Time to learn another language I guess.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Interview with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse About Google.be, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Jude on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 10:52 AM EDT
...indicating an interest in receiving money for Google News' using their articles.

Hmm, you mean they don't want Google to just stop using them as a source?
They want Google to send traffic to their sites AND get paid for it?

Dream on...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Again, why isn't robots.txt acceptable?
Authored by: talexb on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 11:04 AM EDT
I read through the English and the original French, and I still don't understand
why robots.txt isn't acceptable. What am I missing?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Arrows
Authored by: jplatt39 on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 11:08 AM EDT
PJ, please. I'm posting this in plain text to be unambiguous and because I
really am sick and tired of HTML.

If you want to print out the arrows in HTML you do so like this:

≶ META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOARCHIVE" >.
This works in any HTML page, not just Geeklog, to print out <META
NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOARCHIVE">. There are a lot of
those codes but those two &lt; and &gt; are useful enough so I sometimes
append that <ban html> for practice and I keep a piece of paper with those
and other useful &codes around.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Both parties are wrong...
Authored by: bradley13 on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 11:18 AM EDT
Robots.txt should be perfectly acceptable. Copiepresse is basically trolling for
money - they want their content indexed, but they want to be paid for it.

Google, on the other hand, probably asked for trouble, by ignoring the issue -
their typically lousy customer relations.

As an example: I manage a whole network of related and very similar sites, and
one just will not appear in Google's index, no matter what I do. The site meets
all guidelines, the content is innocuous, but it has somehow been removed. And
there seems to be *nothing* one can do. There seems to be no procedure for
requesting review or intervention, and e-mail inquiries go unanswered.

If Google would answer their mail, they might be able to prevent problems like
this lawsuit...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Interview with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse About Google.be, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 11:20 AM EDT

Google's instructions for controlling their robot point here, which says:

It is not an official standard backed by a standards body, or owned by any commercial organisation. It is not enforced by anybody, and there no guarantee that all current and future robots will use it.
So it's not surprising to me that "they do not accept robot.txt files as a solution."

Unfortunately, government and regulation and laws come to all things, and the internet is no different. As much as I'd like to see people have the maximum freedom to do whatever they want, there are always tradeoffs when reality strikes. In this case, the people who actually do the grunt work of reporting news are fighting for their piece of the action. And google doesn't get to dictate how they run their businesses, and if robots.txt doesn't cut it for them, then that's too bad for google. So it seems likely to me that google, et al, will have to conform and compromise, to an extent.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The problem with robots.txt
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 11:26 AM EDT
The problem with robots.txt is that it assumes the default is permission, and
the publisher can choose to deny permission.

In copyright law, the default is usually the other way round - the default is NO
permission, and the copyright holder can choose to grant permission.

Of course, "fair use" and "fair dealing", may apply in some
cases/jurisdictions, complicating the picture, but the reversal of defaults
problem still exists.

I would think that a possible solution would be for search engines to assume no
permission, unless a robots.txt was present (or they had been granted permission
some other way for example by the webmaster submitting the site). Some people
would think that might be commercial suicide for the search engines, as lots of
sites would be dropped from the index - but given how desparate most webmasters
are to promote their site - I think the problem would solve itself in short
order (nearly every webmaster would create a robots.txt).

Of course, the explicit permission robots.txt idea might be unnecessary in some
jurisdictions. But the idea could be used for google.be or web sites with
Belgian IP addresses or both (and similar jurisdictions).

In any case, in any jurisdiction where mitigation of damages play a part, I
think there should be little or no damages for indexing a site without a
robots.txt - because the webmaster who published online but failed to create a
robots.txt probably failed to mitigate their damges.



Quatermass
IANAL IMHO etc.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Self important, moi?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 12:18 PM EDT
I actually found the interview quite insulting. She pushing her (and presumably
her organisations) understanding of belgian law and their own self-interested
point of view as "How european law works" and "How europeans
think". I'm a european and I no way agree with her and know the law of most
european countries doesn't agree either.

The internet is cached, not just by Google, but by many other services, ISPs and
private servers. This is a known fact. If you don't want your stuff cached then
don't publish. Google bends over backwards to other a simple to use method of
stopping caching and removing pages from cache, which is far more than they have
to do.

Despite her protestations this is a simple case of money-grabbing by old media.
They're going after google because that's where the money is. I don't see a
lawsuit against archive.org. I wonder why?

[ Reply to This | # ]

They are just like SCOG.
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 12:42 PM EDT
"They are not philanthropists. They are businessmen. And so, in principle,
with businessmen, we should be able to find a common ground."

Translated;
"They are not philanthropists." They are not good people.
"They are businessmen." They are bad people.
"And so, in principle, with businessmen, we should be able to find a common
ground." We are as bad as they are and we want some money off them.

Well she convinced me, they are all just in it for what they can get.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Careful with Remove URL Instruction
Authored by: Bill Slawski on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 12:43 PM EDT
So, if a site doesn't wish its material to be found in search engines' cache, here's all it has to do. Place the following in the header of the HTML of the page or pages it doesn't want cached:

META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOARCHIVE"

The next time Google crawls the site, it will honor that instruction. (You need to put the words inside of left and right arrows, but if I do that here, you won't be able to see the words, which is the purpose of the arrows. It's instructions for robots, not for people to read.) If you can't wait for the next time Google stops by, there's an automatic URL removal system.
The Remove URL feature at Google will take that page out of Google completely, instead of just removing the copy of the page in the Google Cache. It's not the same, so be careful.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Copyright DOES require a notice
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 01:03 PM EDT

if you are not opposed, it's normal that we take; there is no law which says that.

Well actually there is. Every DVD I own starts with a copyright notice. If you check the credits on broadcast television, you will probably find a copyright notices. Books have a copyright notice, normally inside the front cover. Computer software has copyright notices, normally near the start of each file, and as a command line option or menu item. If these notices were absent, the work would be public domain. IANAL, but AFAIK there are laws which state "If you do not give a copyright notice, your work is not protected."

It is not practical for search engines to read and understand copyright notices. The robots.txt file is the agreed standard (Not created by google) by which authors can restrict the activities of search engines.

We cannot choose between being dispossessed of our content or erased.

Search engines in general and google in particular do allow choices, such as:

  • Not being indexed
  • Being indexed but not cached.
  • Being indexed and cached.

Looks like Copiepresse can achieve their goals by being indexed but not cached.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I guess I'm confused
Authored by: calibax on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 01:04 PM EDT
OK, so I read the interview. As I understand it, this Belgian company is upset
that Google is indexing and archiving their copyrighted content on Google News.
That's fair - they are allowed to be upset.

However, they don't want to use robots.txt to prevent the indexing and/or the
archiving actions by the Google spider. The only reason I can conceive is that
they want money for their content from Google, by claiming that Google has
caused them to lose control of their copyrighted content. They claim this even
though the remedy is clearly in their own hands and is trivial to implement. I
have a robots.txt file on one of my sites, and it took less than 15 minutes from
starting to research the topic to final implementation.

This is where I'm confused. I just looked at Google News and I didn't see any
Google generated adverts. Not on the main page, and not by following any links
to stories. So, my presumption is that Google isn't making money from Google
News. Why is this? Is it just a pro bono service to the Internet population?
Or am I missing something here?

Assuming that Google isn't making money, aren't they just as much providing a
service to the news content providers by giving them a larger audience and an
opportunity to sell their own organisation? On the face of it, it seems like
indexing is more of a financial win for the news content people than Google.

I'm really amazed that the person being interviewed feels that because content
can be accessed from Belgium, the Belgian courts have the right to control it.
As I recall there are over 200 countries in the world, and probably every one of
them can make the same argument - but it doesn't make it any more valid. If
this view prevailed, the internet would quickly lose many (most?) of the
commercial sites, as I seriously doubt it would be possible to satify the
conflicting legal requirements of 200 different nations.

And nations aren't the only places laws are created. Would this view create the
situation where a US state or local judge could shut down large parts of the
internet?

For example, look at the current Spamhaus litigation, where a US federal judge
has fined Spamhaus to the tune of $11 million for publishing a spam black list.
Spamhaus provides information on known spam sites free of charge to any Internet
user that cares to access their service. It is a British company run by
volunteers, does no business in the US, and doesn't have an office in the US.
Of course, the suit was brought by a spammer. Why should a British company be
required to defend itself in the US for providing a free service that nobody is
forced to use but most ISPs want to use?

I reminded of the Yorkshire expression "Everyone in t'world is mad 'cept
thee and me. And I'm none too sure 'bout thee."


[ Reply to This | # ]

Interesting WebmasterWorld threads
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 01:04 PM EDT

There are some threads on WebmasterWorld which might interest some people here, particularly: Google "Cache" Not Copyright Violation - Jan '06

I find this lengthy thread interesting since it contains arguments from small content publishers *against* the sort of handling of copyrighted material that google uses in their so-called cache. I don't agree with this POV myself (I believe in opt-out not opt-in, like a good Lessig fanboy), but it is refreshing to hear the case argued by those who are not largescale lobbying organisations, and a good reminder not to indulge in stereotyping those we disagree with.

> I don't see how that means it's open season on content.

Simply start a search engine, register as an isp, and throw the word "cache" on a page and go go go - rip the internet - it is your oyster.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Copyright law is out of date
Authored by: Alan(UK) on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 01:10 PM EDT
Clearly there needs to be legal clarification here on an international scale.

When I publish something using someone elses medium, I expect to have to abide
by their rules or negotiate my own terms with them.

The problem with the Internet is that nobody owns it in any meaningful way.

When I publish something on the Internet, surely I am submitting myself to the
rules of the Internet. They might be informal, unpublished, de-facto rules but
they are rules nevertheless. In the UK we would have no problem with this, other
countries might though.

The thing to remember when publishing on the Internet is that the search engines
are already there. If you don't like it, there are options to limit their
operation, but ultimately - if you don't like it, publish elsewhere.

When somebody comes to your server and requests a page, you have the right to
refuse them - or, give them a copy. If you freely give a copy to everyone that
asks, are you not implying that they have a right to keep it as long as they
wish and to propagate the copy under the same terms on which they received it?

The laws of copyright are ongoing. As new media come into existence, so new
rules are required to avoid nullifying the original intent of the laws. There
are enormous difficulties in framing new copyright laws to keep up with these
changing times - but an obvious requirement is that they should be enforceable
in some fair and uniform manner.

A lot of thought needs to be given to this - but this case is plain silly.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Once upon a time ..
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 01:26 PM EDT
BBW inc. invented a magic key that opened any lock. They sold these widely and
for a trivial sum, marketing them as a solution for people who either forget
their keys or are tired of carrying a stack of keys. Now the Big Bad Wolf has
been huffing and puffing for ages but he can't blow the house of bricks down. He
buys a magic key, sneaks into the little pig's house and, well, can you say
Bacon ? The little pig's brothers are horrified and promptly sue BBW inc for
making the magic keys. BBW inc replies 'But if you'd only come and asked us, we
could've told you how to create a spell that would prevent the magic key from
working.' So gentle reader, who's culpable here ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Field v. Google: Implied License and Estoppel
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 01:34 PM EDT
Quartermass,

In the U.S., Field v. Google found that Google had an implied license to index
and cache Field's content, and the Field was estopped from claiming
infringement, because 1) Field knew that he could have told Google not to index
or cache his content but he chose not to tell Google, and 2) Google relied on
that silence.

robots.txt is such a widely known standard. Everyone knows how it works.
Internet search has worked as it does now for over 12 years. Those are great
arguments for implied license -- nothing like SCO's argument that GPL'ed code is
public domain.

polymath

[ Reply to This | # ]

The jurisdiction question
Authored by: Sean DALY on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 02:23 PM EDT
PJ:
>> France already tried that with Yahoo,
>> and what it got was limited to the French site.

In fact it's more complex than that. Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, and others are very
careful to filter any Nazi-related objects within France. AFAIK the French court
confirmed what Copiepresse wants: no infractions on the soil of France, no
matter what the domain is. Only geolocalizing (matching IPs, browser or OS
language, etc.) allows that.

I am in France today and I tested this just now: I connected to ebay.com,
searched "German 1944" in Militaria, and clicked on an item for sale
with a swastika. I got the following message:

****************************************************
Dear User:

Unfortunately, access to this particular category or item has been blocked due
to legal restrictions in your home country. Based on our discussions with
concerned government agencies and eBay community members, we have taken these
steps to reduce the chance of inappropriate items being displayed. Regrettably,
in some cases this policy may prevent users from accessing items that do not
violate the law. At this time, we are working on less restrictive alternatives.
Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause you, and we
hope you may find other items of interest on eBay.

Thank You.

Hit the return button to return to the previous page.
****************************************************

This message has been on eBay for years now, I am not at all sure they are
"working on less restrictive alternatives."

Google geolocalizes me every time I use the Internet. I usually prefer
google.com; in France, Google proposes I visit Google France; in Belgium, they
propose I visit Google Belgium...

Sean

[ Reply to This | # ]

Copyrights and the Internet
Authored by: FamilyManFirst on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 03:32 PM EDT
It would seem to me that the act of posting information on the Internet implicitly grants certain rights to copy unless you take action, from the time of posting, to state otherwise (such as in a robots.txt file). As PJ has said before, simply browsing to a web site makes a local copy of the site on your computer. The site can't be seen without it. If you add in local cacheing of web sites to speed up browsing you'll find that traditional copyrights are being violated wholesale every day by everyone who browses the web.

Unfortunately, recognition of this implicit grant of rights is not enshrined in law yet (if it ever will be).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Simply ignorance about the web
Authored by: PhilFrisbie on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 03:33 PM EDT
This ignorance reminds me of the regular questions posted to various web
server/HTML groups. They usually start out something like "I need to hide
the HTML code in my pages...." or "I need to stop people from saving
my web page/image/script". The only way to fully protect your web content
is to NOT PUBLISH IT! Sorry for shouting ;^)

I have been using a robots.txt file for over 8 years to disallow indexing of
forum messages on a web site. Google has ALWAYS honored my robots.tx file, but
other search engines have not been so kind.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Interview with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse About Google.be, by Sean Daly
Authored by: hsmyers on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 05:33 PM EDT
Even though I'm aware that this would never happen, consider the effect of
blocking Google usage for the entire country whenever such silly litigation
occurs. This of course would grant the litigator what they want in most cases,
perhaps an extreme version of what they want, but still... I'd certainly do this
during what ever legal proceedings might occur. Maybe they might then understand
their own position better.

--hsm

[ Reply to This | # ]

Perhaps the courts should be told
Authored by: lannet on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 05:59 PM EDT
Granted that the Internet raised new issues regarding jurisdiction, but the fundamental idea of jurisdiction is fairness. That's why if I do something in New York City that would be against the law in Belgium but not here, they can't normally arrest me, unless there is a treaty in effect that says it can.

It strikes me that the Illinous (sp??) case against Spamhaus, the Brazil courts against Google and Victoria (AU) case in Gutnick -v- Dow Jones all need to be told about this.

Courts will assume whatever powers they think they can.

---
When you want a computer system that works, just choose Linux.
When you want a computer system that works, just, choose Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Margaret Boribon seemed very evasive
Authored by: globularity on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 06:50 PM EDT
For someone who had just briefed a court the lack of specifity on key points
like how exactly google had been notified is telling. 14 days between the
alleged effective notification and the hearing date is pretty short, sounds like
sandbagging to me.

The funny thing is that what she is whining about is a practice that traditional
media has indulged in at their expense for years. The free distribution of
tasters in order to entice people to view their offerings. Newspapers do it by
displaying a headline outside a newsagent and television does it by playing
their news headlines througout the day (though I really think this is to save on
real content !).

To me this smells like the same thing some book publishers are complaining about
the free promotion and indexing of their work, it is about time the shareholders
of some of these organisations questioned the quality of their management.

Mark

---
"It's all about myths and conceptions" I think that is what Darl meant to say.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Requiring indexing *and* requiring payment?
Authored by: Khym Chanur on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 06:57 PM EDT

Boribon did say that her organization had no problem until Google News started, so maybe she means that Google Search should be required to index, while scraping for Google News would be optional, but also would require payment.

---
Give a man a match, and he'll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Paraphrased from Terry Pratchett)

[ Reply to This | # ]

What's wrong with stealing ?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 07:49 PM EDT
They came in my house and stole all my goods.
PJ said it's OK...
...if I did not post a robots panel in front of my house, saying "Please,
don't enter in my house and rob all my goods and copyrights"...

>>PJ: So, if a house keeper doesn't wish its material to be found in
burglar's cellars, here's all it has to do. Place the following in the front of
the room or rooms he doesn't want to be stealed:
CAUTION NAME="BURGLARS" CONTENT="NOENTER"

------------------
Did the victim say "Don't kill me, please!" ?
No ? So the defendant is not guilty of murder...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Cached Content
Authored by: lightsail on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 08:48 PM EDT
It seems that the copyright violation is cached content. Possessing the
copyrighted material after the original has been removed.

On that basis, an individual that web surfs in Belgium is likely to violate the
law in Belgium. The files are cached by modern web browsers. it is inevitable
that the original of some website will change or become unavailable.

Will Belgium outlaw Web surfing?

---
Open source is in the public interest!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Interview with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse About Google.be, by Sean Daly
Authored by: elronxenu on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 09:09 PM EDT

as long as they behaved as a search engine, we never had the slightest reproach or the slightest difficulty. It was the launching of the Google News service, presenting themselves as an information portal, which started our actions, those of the WAN, and that of the AFP.

The difference between a search engine and an information portal is ... what, exactly? They look like the same thing to me. Google News merely limits its search to newspapers and rearranges the search engine results.

It seems to me they want to have their cake and eat it too. They characterised absence from the google database as obscurity. So they _want_ to be in google, and they want google to pay for something which _they_, not google, want.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Fair use ?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 10:21 PM EDT
On the Google News.be there was a mix of articles from belgian newspapers in
french and from french newpapers.

One day, on the main Google News.be page, an abstract of a paper from the french
newspaper "Le Monde" was illustrated with a photography from the
belgian newspaper "Le Soir"...
without any mention of the copyright holder.

Is this "fair use" ?

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The law is not code
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 11:05 PM EDT
I'd like to remind people of something one of the lawyers said here a few weeks
ago: the law is not code. If you misplace a semicolon the whole thing does not
crash. This is important because I see a lot of argument based on the fact that
a browser technically takes a copy of the page in order to render it. This
bending of international copyright law (or treaty) is unlikely to be seen by a
judge as license to take as many copies as you want.

People also make a big deal out of various cached copies made during the
transmission process. I doubt copyright holders would put this issue before a
court but I suggest if they did, a judge would see a difference between copies
made for this reason and cached copies made available alongside advertising.

A judge is not going to get bogged down in technical details. He is going to
look at the big picture and see who is doing the work and who is making the
money. There are a lot of precedents out there. E.g. radio stations would be
pretty quiet with no songs to play and musicians benefit from having their songs
on the radio. But someone decided that the radio stations pay royalties for the
content they present.

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DMCA (at least in US)
Authored by: pem on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 11:13 PM EDT
I know we don't like (part) of the DMCA here at groklaw.

But it has a lot of good stuff in it for exactly this situation. I think, at
least in US, google would be operating under several of the safe harbors of this
law.

Honoring robots.txt shows good faith on the part of google; if a US plaintiff
still doesn't like what they do, they would have to get past all the language in
the DMCA, and would probably have had to sent take-down notices, prove they were
ignored, etc.

pem

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Is it a shake-down attempt?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 11 2006 @ 11:55 PM EDT
I'm trying really hard to read this as anything other than a shake-down attempt, but I'm failing miserably, even after reading all the other comments here. Obviously, any "deal" that was worked out between the papers and google (that didn't involve any exchange of money) would, technically, be indistinguishable from the sort of stuff you can do as described here.

A lot of organizations like IEEE and ACM publish a lot of material that IS in google's index cache, but which google will NOT show you, because IEEE and ACM want you to go to their sites and have to pay for it. Google quite happily indexes these documents, and these sites obviously went out of their way (with extra web server configuration logic) to allow google to read the entire articles to be able to index them, while I can't read the article unless I pay.

It obviously was silly of google to ignore the lawsuit (if, in fact, that is what they did), but maybe they assumed if they told the Belgians about these technical possibilities, the Belgians would be reasonable and say "oh, okay -- that's all we need to do. Thanks!".

It's obvious from the interview that some of this message got through. The Belgians wanted to understand it well enough to come up with some lame reasons why it wouldn't work. "It's only technical -- there's no legal teeth behind it."

In this light, I wouldn't even characterize google's move as retaliatory. It's more "well, we obviously didn't understand what you wanted, so we'll stop indexing your stuff, and when you figure out what you want, get back to us and if we don't already have a solution, maybe we'll figure something out".

And I think if the response isn't reasoned and rational, then it really is just a shakedown attempt. That's when they will find out what a mistake this is, but it still won't really be retaliation on google's part. If a Belgian judge rules that google has to acquire individual positive affirmation to index certain websites in Belgium, the only rational and safe response is to stop indexing the entire country, until the judge clarifies in his ruling exactly what form that affirmation could take.

Any bets on whether it looks like robots.txt and the META tag?

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The problem is CACHE?
Authored by: mobrien_12 on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 12:03 AM EDT
By publishing this stuff on a public HTML server, they are IMPLICITLY allowing
everyone to make a copy in cache, which can be pulled up at any time.

What browsers don't have a cache anymore? Lynx?


[ Reply to This | # ]

Sickening period
Authored by: grayhawk on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 01:15 AM EDT
I am sick and tired of this type of litigation regarding web content.

The Internet is a public forum, that's what Internet means... International
Network. If you put something out on the network you mean for all of the world
to know period. You have got to expect that if someone likes it they will make
a copy of it. If this is not what you want then DON'T PUT IT OUT ON THE
INTERNET PERIOD. If you want to make money on what you have and think you can
sell the information, then restrict the website to members only and require your
members to pay for a login ID and password. Then you can control your web
content. But don't cry foul by putting something out in the wild and then you
find out that someone has made use of it or is passing it on and take them to
court. I think its time to stop this practice and teach the folks that you put
it out in the wild you no longer can assert your rights. If you don't like that
then keep it under lock and key.

---
It is said when the power of love overcomes the love of power, that it is then
and only then that we shall truly have peace!

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Interview with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse About Google.be, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 02:50 AM EDT
"How could any business manage to exist with everyone able to tell it how
to run its business and how would it comply with conflicting laws in various
places?"

Replace 'laws' with 'views', and you've just described how most government
organisations in Belgium work...

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The seizure by Google of Internet search has major political consequences.
Authored by: kh on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 03:11 AM EDT
What seizure? You don't have to use google as your search engine.

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No robots.txt?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 03:22 AM EDT
Sooo.... they're saying they would rather sue *every* search engine worldwide
and negotiate individual licences with them all, rather than making a single
entry in robots.txt?

Yeah, right, that's so much less work for them it makes perfect sense. This
isn't about the money at all...

I can see why Google didn't want to turn up, they didn't want to set a precident
for every greedy website owner on the planet thinking they were fair game for
cases like this. If google have to turn up to every court case, and apply
rulings individually for each website, it will make the search engine business,
and hence the web, unworkable.

The designers of the web were well aware of the impossibility of central
management on this scale. That's one of the reasons they created the standards
for robots.txt, allowing the content provider to specify how they want that
content to be used.

It's an interesting point actually, copyright law doesn't allow for a
robots.txt, but the internet would be unusable without it. Is it time for the
law to be updated?

Myxiplx (too lazy to log on)

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What exactly does the law say?
Authored by: mtew on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 07:48 AM EDT
INL!

My understanding is that everything published in the US and many other places is
automatically copyrighted, but what exactly does that mean?

In books I've seen copyright notices followed by the line

All Rights Reserved.

The GPL and other licenses start with a copyright notice followed by an explicit
set of conditions for redistribution.

If the default is 'no copying ever', then why the 'All Rights Reserved' line?
Does this somehow reduce the 'fair use' rights?

The caches make Google, Yahoo! The WayBack Machine and a host of others much
more useful (especially the WayBack Machine). They act much like open to the
public libraries with their stacks of old newspapers. And like the libraries
they really do make extra copies of the material they keep. (If you ask a
library to see a newspaper from the 1800's you will NOT get the actual paper;
you'll get access to a microfiche copy of the paper.) Does this similarity have
implications?

---
MTEW

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A double failure of common sense
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 09:44 AM EDT
I've been told that in some U.S. states it's legal to
shoot a person who trespass into your property. If we
apply this law literally, this means I can shoot whomever
rings my doorbell with impunity. One reason why in these
states, despite this ill-conceived law, it's not open
season on salesmen and postmen, it's that people use
common sense and don't shoot anyone who shows at their
doorstep. Another reason is that judges too use common
sense, and unless I can prove that the "trespasser" meant
to cause harm to me, if I shoot an innocent visitor
they'll send me to jail for manslaughter.

As far as I know, Belgium don't have special laws w.r.t.
copyright, but just follows the Berne Convention, like all
other European countries. And yes, in theory the Berne
convention says that before making a copy of a copyrighted
work you must ask explicit permission to the copyright
holder. However there's the possibility to prevent search
engines from caching your web site by placing a robots.txt
file, so most people use common sense and, if they don't
want their pages to be cached, place this file on their
site, and that's the end of it. If someone particularly
litigious didn't use common sense and sued, say, Google,
for not asking permission (as a literal interpretation of
the law requires), you'd expect that at least the judge
used some common sense and dismissed such a frivolous
suit.

Now, Halloween is around the corner, and here are my plans
for that day. I'm going to leave a bowl full of candy on
my doorstep on the night of October 31st, and I'll have
all my neighbors' kids arrested for theft on the morning
of November 1st. Who gave them permission to take my
candy? The law is on my side!

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Readers' Guide To Periodical Literature...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 10:10 AM EDT
It seems to me that GoogleNews is just an electronic form of that often
overlooked indexing service, "Readers' Guide To Periodical
Literature."

Can anyone tell me what permissions, licensing, and compensation schedule that
RGTPL has with the publications it indexes?

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Further audacity
Authored by: CnocNaGortini on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 10:30 AM EDT
In effect, she accuses Google of being in a position to censor information, or
suppress providers of information, by not listing certain things, and indicates
what a horrible thing that is to do.

How is it different from the application of editorial policy (and of D-notices
in the UK, or equivalents in other countries) that newspapers have traditionally
done?

Pot. Kettle. Black.

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Who's caching whom?
Authored by: gumnos on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 10:42 AM EDT

Perhaps Google and .be/.fr can reach an agreement...

The .be/.fr media outlets can charge Google for any advertising revenues that come from advertising on Google's cached copies of their copyrighted content. Google can then charge not only referal fees for directing traffic to the .be/.fr media outlets, but they can also charge for any .be or .fr computers caching copies of Google's copyrighted content (any page created by and served by Google, javascript code, corporate branding images, etc). I have a sneaking suspicion Google would come out ahead, as I'm sure there are quite a number of computers in .be/.fr that cache copies of google.com, google.be, or google.fr locally.  ;-)

How many computers in .be/.fr have copyrighted content belonging to Google in their local caches?

-gumnos



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Interview with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse About Google.be, by Sean Daly - Updated
Authored by: Jude on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 11:56 AM EDT
The town that I live in provides a bulk trash pickup service. The town
publishes a schedule of when pickups will be done by neighborhood, and people
wishing to dispose of large items just have to put them out by the curb in time
for their neighborhood's designated pickup.

It is not necessary to adorn the one's trash with legal documents granting
permission for removal, and the pickup crews do not ring doorbells to confirm
permission before taking the trash. If it's out by the curb, they just take
it.

I suppose someone might put something out by the curb for someone else (not the
town) to pick up, and if the town took the item instead then that would
technically be stealing. Sooner or later some clown will actually do this, and
the town will probably have to stop providing this useful service. The
administrative effort of obtaining legally-binding permission to remove each
item would likely be too costly.

Do you think the public good would be served by this strict application of the
law?

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Eddie Izzard where are you
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 12:34 PM EDT
Last night I watched part of the comedy special "Dressed to Kill"
again, and I can just see Eddie Izzard describing copyright on the Web:

"The English say, 'Oh, we're quite all right. Robots.txt file, you know.'

"The Germans say, 'We use robots.txt. We require a login. We have ways of
making you obey both.'

"The Americans say, 'We just use a login to protect our articles. Of
course, a null password gets you in, but we're working on a law to take care of
that.'

"The Italians say, 'Life, it is too short for protection. Read whatever
you want, we don't care. Chao!'

"The Belgians say, "We... are going to have a sandwich.'"

-Wang-Lo.

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HTTP 1.1 (and HTTP 1.0)
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 02:14 PM EDT

Standards exist which govern behaviour concerning proper controlling of cached files over the web. The current standard that defines web browser communications is HTTP 1.1, RFC 2068, published in January of 1997. The beginning of each RFC gives its status, whether that be draft, standard, or anything in between. RFC 2068 says about itself:

This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for improvements. Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state and status of this protocol. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Section/Chapter 13 is titled "Caching in HTTP". Clearly, the working group for this standard thought about issues concerning controlling caching remote web pages.

It is necessary for a search engine to cache a web page (content) in order to index it and make it available for searching. By doing this Google has done only what can be expected of them, no matter which "class" or "type" of content they index for searching. However, providing a cached copy to users, acting as an intermediary, could be considered questionable (ethically, if nothing else) if the owners of the content have specific wishes that you do not honour.

HTTP 1.1 gives content creators the ability to specify, in detail, the length of time which a page should be kept in a cache, if it is to be cached at all. For example, use the header "Cache-Control: max-age=600" to limit the length of time a page is considered "fresh" to 5 minutes.

It is up to individual vendors to honour the standards. Some, such as one in Redmond, WA, frequently ignore standards. However, one would expect a company like Google to follow these open standards.

For Google's part, an easy solution is to examine the headers from the HTTP responses, and treat the information like a client's web browser would treat it: if the web server says the page has expired, re-fetch it and don't offer the "stale" page to users. If the server says never to cache the pages, then don't offer any cached pages to users.

The previous version of HTTP, HTTP 1.0 (RFC 1945), also contains methods for controlling the behaviour of cached files. RFC 1945 was published in May of 1996. By default, Apache downgrades IE to HTTP 1.0 in many (all?) cases because, as mentioned earlier, IE has problems following standards, though this shouldn't (in theory) affect Googlebot.

When a client (Googlebot) connects to a web server and requests content, it tells the web server which version of HTTP it wishes to communicate with. The web server responds with a header describing the version of its response (as mentioned, Apache responds to IE with HTTP 1.0). The client then interprets the headers based on the version of the server's response.

Google may already honour cache control headers in the way I describe, or it may not (I haven't bothered to test). But the burden is not only on Google to ensure that content creators' wishes are carried out. Methods literally have existed for years for content creators to express their desires for their content. If they are going to offer content for public viewing, they need to answer the first question a copyright-conscious viewer would ask: what may I do with this content?

It is also good to note that this information, the HTTP headers which control various things including caching, is transmitted to the client before the actual content. The client requesting the content is told, before receiving the content, what they can do with it, to give them a chance to refuse that content if they do not like the terms.

-M

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Dear Belgium...
Authored by: zenofjazz on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 02:53 PM EDT
The rest of the world called... They said they really don't care...

We're gonna ignore you.

P.S. You can keep the Waffles

(in other words, if you don't want the world to know about you, fine, we'll
ignore you.. if you don't want to follow the technical guidelines on blocking
then you'll look silly. The only thing that can come of this is Google and
everyone else ignoring you).


---
--
Fed up with Sony DRM? Show the world.
http://www.cafepress.com/sonynodrm

50% of profits will be donated to GrokLaw

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  • Dear Belgium... - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 13 2006 @ 11:21 AM EDT
If MSN as well as Google...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 03:42 PM EDT
They claim that Google is a monopoly. Now, I suspect Yahoo might claim to be a
competitor to Google, but reasonable people can disagree.

But then they go after MSN. How does that fit with their claim that Google is a
monopoly? Doesn't one use the word "duopoly" rather than
"monopoly" in the two-supplier case? Or am I failing to grasp some
subtle aspect of Belgian law?

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Interview with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse About Google.be, by Sean Daly - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 12 2006 @ 11:30 PM EDT
Bullying.. No..

Google's (and all other search engines) use automated web indexing/archiving
systems which can't interpret the content of html pages beyond some very
specific content directives. Those indexing bots don't know the difference
between an article, an advert, or just a logo.

Each search provider uses thousands of these bots to scan billions of webpages
on daily basis, human intervention is simply not feasible (nor accurate ??how
many written lauguages and subdialects are in use today??). That is the purpose
of these metatags and robots.txt.

The plantiff's websites either failed to include those directives or used
incorrect ones. Without accurate usage of standardised directives, Google had no
choice but to Disallow indexing for all the websites in dispute.

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Legal question
Authored by: Jude on Friday, October 13 2006 @ 12:10 PM EDT
Suppose I buy a new house. I get the utilities turned on, and I soon discover
that the bathroom sink faucet is leaking on the floor. I know there's a shutoff
value under the sink, but I deliberately ignore it and let the water run on the
floor while I try to contact the builder. By the time the builder is able to
get someone to the house to fix it, the leaking water has done thousands of
dollars worth of damage.

Question: Do I have grounds to sue the builder for the water damage?

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Legal question - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 13 2006 @ 12:15 PM EDT
  • No - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 13 2006 @ 07:44 PM EDT
    • No - Authored by: Jude on Friday, October 13 2006 @ 08:11 PM EDT
Issue is jurisdiction
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 13 2006 @ 08:17 PM EDT
Copyright, robots.txt, are side issues. Google may respect nocache tags, even
http header page expiry dates, but what about the rogues who trample
heedless
over your robots.txt? What happens when the next version of http standard is
released? Never mind next version of the internet. Google, as the biggest kid,
is being prosecuted "comme exemple pour les autres".

Suppose some scribe signs an agreement with Eindhovens Dagblad that
"You can let Google cache my content for 30 days max."
Copiepresse wants that paper enforceable equally in den Hague, and in
Hoboken.

It might seem a bitter pill, but this problem will be solved, like
war, pestilence and famine, only by abolishing the Nation State.

pk

[ Reply to This | # ]

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