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Google Sued by Belgian Newspapers

A group of Belgian newspapers is taking Google, Inc. to court again to get payment of up to $77 million. The original copyright case against Google was in 2006 which the search engine giant appealed but agreed to negotiate.

A subpoena to Google from Copiepresse, which represents French language newspapers in Belgium, asked the US firm to appear in court in September for the hearing on the damage suit.

In the legal summon, Copiepresse alleged that Google had violated Belgian copyright law by reproducing and publishing part of the newspapers’ stories and by storing the full versions of archived stories in its cached pages.

Google has yet to receive the subpoena but its spokesman, Gabriel Stricker, maintained on Tuesday that the firm did not violate any copyright laws.

“We strongly believe that Google News and Google Web search are legal, and that we have not violated Copiepresse’s copyright,” Stricker told Cnet.com. “We consider that this new claim for damages is groundless, and we intend to vigorously challenge it.”

In September 2007, a Belgian court ordered Google to take out headlines and links to news stories posted on its Google News service and stored in its search engine’s cache without Copiepresse’s permission. The order, which is based on the court’s February 2007 ruling that Google violated copyright laws, however, is on appeal.

Google had reinstated links to the Belgian newspapers persuant to talks with Copiepresse to settle the matter. It was unclear what prompted Copiepresse to file the recent damage suit.