legal actions by French companies against search engine Google, it's reported
that the news agency Agence France Press (AFP) is claiming damages of at least
$17.5 million and a court order barring Google News from displaying
AFP photographs, news headlines or story leads, according to a suit filed
last Thursday in a US District Court.
True to form for the senior
executives of many news organizations, when they create the news, it is
conveniently viewed as not news. So AFP has refused to comment. It has reported
Agence France-Presse has sued
Google Inc. for copyright infringement, alleging that the Internet search engine
included AFP headlines, news summaries and photographs published without
permission. In a suit filed in a Washington court, AFP sought damages and
interest of at least $17.5 million (€13.1 million) and an interdiction on
the publication of its text and photos without prior agreement.
In Paris, the AFP management
AFP, which has its headquarters
in Paris and bureaus around the world, is one of the major global news agencies,
and supplies its news services to various kinds of media, including electronic.
It has 600 online clients.
Last week, a court
in Versailles, France, ruled that a lower court's decision in
favor of travel companies Luteciel SARL and Viaticum SA should
stand. Google France SARL had been ordered to pay €75,000 (US$100,000)
in fines and legal costs for abuse of two phrases trademarked by the companies.
In February, luxury goods group LVMH Moët Hennessy's Louis Vuitton
unit won a similar case against Google when a Paris court ruled
that Google infringed the trademark by allowing its competitors to use it
in Google's text advertising. In December, a French court ruled that Google
must refrain from using the trademarks of European resort chain Le Meridien
Hotels and Resorts to trigger keyword ads.
While trademark rights are important, the actions against a
search engine such as Google are classic examples of wanting to have your cake
and eat it.
In AFP's case, it can ensure that Google does not index its
main site by including the relevent code on its servers. Clients could also be
required to put similar code on their sites.
What's the betting that all these companies who have taken
action against Google, gladly take advantage of the free search services
provided by Google?