By Eric Auchard
Agence France-Presse and Google Inc. have settled a copyright lawsuit,
clearing the way for Google to post snippets of the French news
agency's news and photos online, the two companies said on Friday.
In a joint statement, the two companies said the accord allows the
Internet giant to post AFP content on Google News and other services.
Terms of the pact were not disclosed.
The AFP lawsuit, closely watched in the media industry, was filed in
the United States and France. It sought damages and interest as well
as to bar the use of AFP text and photos without prior permission. AFP
agreed to withdraw the action.
Agence France-Presse filed the suit two years ago accusing the Web
search company of copyright infringement for posting AFP headlines,
news summaries and photos, without the news agency's permission, on
its automated Google News site.
"The most significant copyright case against Google News, that filed
by Agence France-Presse back in March 2005, has now ended," Danny
Sullivan, a top analyst of the Web search industry, said of the deal
on his Search Engine Land blog.
Google News allows consumers to search by keywords for news summaries
and links to news stories, grouping together related stories based on
a computer analysis of the material's underlying thematic
relationships. The service is available internationally in 40
languages or regionalized versions.
The new agreement "will enable the use of AFP's newswire content in
innovative, new ways that will dramatically improve the way users
experience newswire content on the Internet," the companies' statement
The settlement comes eight months after Google struck a licensing deal
with AFP-rival Associated Press, or AP, in which Google agreed to pay
AP for use of its news. Reuters also has a variety of deals to supply
news and photos to Google services.
AFP's lawsuit filed two years ago against Google was followed by a
similar challenge to Google News by Copiepresse, which manages
copyrights for a variety of Belgian papers.
In February, a Belgian court ruled that Google must stop reproducing
headlines from Belgian newspapers or face fines. At the time, a
Copiepresse executive said she would consider allowing Google to
display extracts from its papers for a fee.
Under the agreement reached, AFP headlines and photographs will again
be available on Google News, Google Actualites, the French-language
version of Google News, and other Google services, driving traffic to
Web sites displaying AFP news content, the news agency said.
"The agreement will allow uses of AFP's content in ways that go beyond
its typical use of content in Google's services, which features just
headlines and snippets of text to provide just a taste of what an
article offers," AFP Chairman and Chief Executive Pierre Louette said
in the statement.
AFP has existing licensing agreements with Google rivals Yahoo Inc.
Microsoft Corp. MSN, Time Warner Inc.'s AOL and other Internet
Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.
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