Stibbe advises Google

BE Law

Stibbe represented Google in a high-profile copyright litigation against Copiepresse before the Belgian courts.

The case had been litigating in Belgium since 2006. In short, regional French- and German-language newspapers (represented by Copiepresse) sued Google for copyright infringement. This dispute focused on whether Google News violated copyright entitlements of Belgian newspaper publishers. Copiepresse claimed that the hyperlinks contained in Google News which brought users to news stories were unauthorized and were hurting its traffic and ad revenues. Google argued that its actions were legal under copyright law and that it was actually delivering traffic to the newspaper websites so the newspapers were benefiting from those hyperlinks. The newspapers’ ability to utilize robots.txt to prevent the indexing of their content didn’t make Google immune from liability in the case. 

Although Copiepresse won its case before the Court of Appeal of Brussels, it agreed to an out-of-court settlement with Google afterwards whereby all other legal proceedings between the two parties ended without further trial avoiding Google's potential conviction to pay astronomical damages.