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March 09, 2011

Google Loses Case in Paris Court, Must Pay $600,000
By David Sims
TMCnet Contributing Editor

Another Tuesday, another court tussle for Google (News - Alert). Yawn. At least it’s Mardi Gras. According to Agence France-Presse, a French court “has found Google guilty of four counts of copyright breach, ordering the Internet search giant to pay out hundreds of thousands of Euros, court records seen Tuesday showed.”

The judgment itself amounts to little more than bus fare for Google, what the lawyer character at the end of The Social Network advised Mark Zuckerberg (News - Alert) was a “traffic ticket,” a total of 430,000 Euros ($598,000) in damages and interest to the plaintiffs on top of the legal costs, which can be written off as the cost of doing business as a successful American firm in Europe.

The actual court case “pitted Google France and Google Inc. on one side against film producers Mondovino, a photographer and some documentary makers,” AFP reported, explaining that Mondovino “argued that their works were appearing online, via the Google search engine and sometimes directly on Google Video, despite their demands that such material be withdrawn. In all four cases Google was condemned for ‘acts of breach of copyright’.”

What a cool name for a company, “Mondovino.” The world of wine.

Not a whole lot of other coverage of this -- and yes, to be fair, we used Bing to search out news. Industry observer Doug Caverly noted that the size of the fine is inconsequential to Google, “which has a market cap of about $191 billion. The bigger problems would be the PR blow and the precedent this ruling would establish.”

We wouldn’t worry about the PR “blow” ourselves, frankly, it’s not like we’ll see a mad stampede for the exits because of this, but the concern about precedent is legitimate. As Caverly says, “Google is supposed to be more vigilant than ever in terms of censoring search results and monitoring uploads, which could leave the company open to more lawsuits in the future.”

In other words, more traffic tickets on the road ahead for Google.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Jennifer Russell


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