Belgian Newspapers Strike Again: Yahoo in the Hot Seat Over Copyright Issues

Dennis Faas's picture

While traditionally known for beer and chocolate, Belgium is now making a name for itself as a strict enforcer of copyright laws. Copiepresse, Belgium's copyright enforcement group, has recently taken a stand against Yahoo.

"We sent a formal letter to Yahoo [last week], requesting it to remove all links to our newspapers' content," said Margaret Boribon, secretary-general of Copiepresse. She adds that failure to comply will leave Copiepresse no choice but to take Yahoo to court. (Source:

Yahoo, like many other search engines, provides snippets of information and links to news articles. While the practice has become commonplace in most areas, Copiepresse is not a fan of the system. (Source:

If Copiepresse's discontent with online snippets sounds familiar, you're right. The Belgian organization made headlines in 2006 for suing Google on the same grounds. Google chose to remove the content in order to avoid the 500,000 Euro per day fine, but has appealed the ruling. A verdict is expected from the appellate court later this month. (Source:

Yahoo has released a statement saying that the company "respects the copyright of content owners" and will "respond in an appropriate manner" to Copiepresse's concerns. (Source:

Since the explosion of the Internet, copyright lawsuits have become an epidemic for content providers. Undoubtedly, the online medium adds a great degree of haziness to copyright laws. However, many have questioned why Copiepresse would want their content removed. Eliminating links and snippets from major search engines will likely decrease the traffic for the newspapers. Although having the content removed gives newspaper companies more control over how their content is displayed, this short term advantage is heavily outweighed by the disadvantage of lower site traffic. (Source:

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