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Continued Google News indexing 'boosts AFP case'

May cost search giant dearly

Google's apparent inability to keep AFP (Agence France Presse) content out of its Google News service may cost it dearly if the French news agency wins its copyright violation lawsuit against the search engine firm, a lawyer for AFP said yesterday.

Google pledged to rid Google News of AFP content a few days after AFP sued it for copyright infringement in March of last year. However, PC Advisor found AFP content in Google News on Monday after doing a search for 'Agence France Presse'.

Google has declined to answer why, despite its stated intention, AFP content is still surfacing on Google News. The links to AFP-bylined stories found on the English and French versions of Google News were from recent days, including an article published by The New York Times this weekend.

AFP had been under the impression that its content had stopped appearing on Google News, and only realised it was still happening after it was pointed out on Monday, said Joshua J Kaufman, a lawyer with Venable in Washington DC who is representing AFP.

What this means for AFP is that if it prevails in the pending lawsuit, the scope of infringement will be much wider than originally alleged, he said.

"AFP was unaware of Google's continued infringement but will of course seek damages for any infringements when the damage stage of the case comes before the court," Kaufman said.

The situation also raises the question of whether Google can truly prevent certain content from showing up on Google News, and thus comply with a court injunction if one were issued, he said.

The news agency wants the court to forbid the search company from including its content in Google News. However, Google isn't currently under any court-mandated obligation to do so. AFP is also seeking to recover damages of at least $17.5m (about £9.6m) from Google.

Neither a lawyer representing Google nor a spokesman for the firm responded to requests for comment.


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