Do not cross Google—especially if you're a powerless Belgian newspaper. A group of Belgian newspapers sued Google for posting their articles in Google News without their permission and won. Now, Google has banned their websites from search results.
These newspapers got more than they bargained for when they won the lawsuit, which requires Google to pay fines of $35,359 per infringement if they post the papers' articles on Google News. Now, Google claims that the ruling applies to search results, too. But the newspapers are whining that they actually still want to be in search results, which makes sense: Since the ban took effect, their traffic has been dropping precipitously, and Google's search market share is as high as 90% in Belgium.
Why is Google being so boneheaded about this? Revenge, according to the papers. Like old-school mob bosses, Google's saying to these uppity papers: "Oh, you don't appreciate what we do for you? You want to be free of Google? Well, here, have your precious freedom. How do you like it out in the cold internet all alone? Not so appealing, is it?"
Google will probably re-install these papers back in the search results after their executives promise to rename their newspapers "I love Google"—you know, an extra special form of Search Engine Optimization.
Update: Google has reinstated the newspapers into search results. Probably with a sarcastic email that said, "Oh, we're sorry... we thought you wanted your precious newspaper off of all of Google. Our mistake!"
[AP, Image via Getty]