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Analysis/Comment Last Updated: Dec 19th, 2007 - 13:17:15

AFP news agency joins French queue to sue Google
By Michael Hennigan
Mar 19, 2005, 16:47

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Following several 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 as follows:

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 declined comment.

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?

© Copyright 2007 by Finfacts.com

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