Belgian newspapers have sued Google because of the company's incorporation of news articles and images in Google News. The newspapers claim that the search giant has no rights to post contents and links on their Google News service without payment or permission. A Belgian court decided that the newspapers were right. That meant for Google that the company would have to pay fines if contents would still appear on Google.
The court ruling may have backfired big time for the newspapers, as Google has begun to block articles and sites not only on Google News but also on Google Search. That's a serious blow to the suing newspapers considering that Google's market share in the Belgian search market is believed to be higher than 90%.
Belgian newspapers like the La Capitale are now stating that it was not their intention to get banned from Google Search. All they wanted to achieve was to either get paid to be included in Google News, or do not appear at all there.
Google on the other hand believes that the court's decision applies to all of their products, and that the company would face fines of 25,000 Euros if contents of one of the newspaper websites would appear in the search engine results, Google News or any other Google owned web property.
All banned Belgian newspapers are members of Copiepresse, a copyright management company. Websites like Alexa are already showing a downward trend for affected newspaper websites. While Alexa is not the most accurate tool when it comes to determining a website's traffic stats over time, it can be used to visualize trends.
The search traffic for the LaLibre site dropped from 12.7% on average for the last 30 days to 3.2% yesterday, which indicates a traffic decline of almost 10% because of the ban. It is likely that search engine traffic will drop further in the coming days.
Sudpresse, another Belgian newspaper shows a decline from 17.1% to 8.7% yesterday. It is fair to say that the ban will hurt the newspapers in the long run. Possible effects are less links from third party sites which correlates with less visitors from those sites. It is likely that the newspapers will see further decline in traffic over the coming months and years.
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