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Google, Agence France-Presse settle lawsuit

Google now has permission to use AFP news and photos

By Juan Carlos Perez
April 6, 2007 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Agence France-Presse has settled its two-year-old lawsuit against Google Inc., a move that defuses the French news agency's allegations that inclusion of its content on the Google News site amounts to copyright infringement.

AFP and Google have signed a licensing agreement that grants Google permission to use AFP news and photos, the news agency said today in a release.

AFP sued Google in March 2005, alleging that the search engine company broke the law by including AFP material in Google News without permission. Google aggregates links, text snippets and thumbnail photos of articles from thousands of media outlets on the Google News site. In its defense, Google argued that the site is protected by the fair use principle, which allows for limited use of copyright material, and that headlines, text snippets and thumbnail images aren't protected by copyright.

In its statement, which is being run verbatim as a news story by some AFP subscribers, AFP said details of the licensing agreement would not be disclosed. The deal will let Google use AFP material "in innovative, new ways," AFP said. Specifically, Google gets permission to use AFP material on Google News and in other, more extensive ways, the news agency said.

The deal sounds similar to the one Google reached with AFP competitor The Associated Press in August 2006. At the time, Google and AP said they had struck a licensing agreement granting Google permission to use the wire service's material in a broader manner than it does in Google News.

In its lawsuit, which was filed both in the U.S. and France, AFP sought damages of at least $17.5 million as well as a court-imposed order barring Google from including its material in Google News. The AFP case had received much attention as a potentially solid legal test for Google News, which courts in Belgium have found violates copyrights.

Google officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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