Belgian newspapers continue to attack news aggregators

Belgian newspapers continue to attack news aggregators

About a month ago I reported that Belgian newspaper publisher Copiepresse demanded that Google should pay €49 million to compensate for the damage listings in Google News had caused them. A weird case, and not just because Copiepresse can easily prevent these listings. What struck me the most was the old-fashioned attitude of the Belgian media company. Call me naive, but I expected the executives of traditional media companies to be visionary enough to realize Google News brings them nothing but traffic. Was I shocked back then, now I’m really amazed by the next step of Copiepresse: they’re suing the EU’s news aggregator NewsExplorer.

This aggregation service from the European Commission wants to help visitors to grasp cultural differences among the EU by showing articles from all countries concerning the same matter. This unique piece of technology is a bit too modern for the Copiepresse conservatives, who prefer officials that use scissors and scrap books to collect the latest European news – behind closed doors. Just imagine helping out citizens by publicly organizing news.

Forgive me my cynicism and lack of respect for traditional business models. It’s just plain frustrating to see a large media company trying to destroy an emerging world of news and information. Copiepresse fails to see threats to their business models as challenges and tries to keep us in a bygone age of information.

There are only two positive notes here: the court has tossed out the case, based on jurisdictional grounds (so there’s hope for Google too), and what goes around, comes around. A company that only sees threats in the digital revolution, will find itself dismantled in a few deccenia. The only thing that bothers me about that, is the waste of journalistic talent.

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