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Google sued by Swedish photo agency

David Landes · 1 Mar 2012, 17:52

Published: 01 Mar 2012 17:52 GMT+01:00

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In the lawsuit, filed last week in Stockholm District Court, Scanpix complains that its pictures often appear as thumbnails next to articles listed in the Swedish version of Google News, Google Nyheter.

According to Scanpix, the images constitute copyright protected material that the agency hasn't authorized Google to use.

In the suit, Scanpix describes ongoing efforts to strike a deal with Google to compensate the agency for the use of its pictures, which began appearing on Google Nyheter in 2008.

Google also attempted to filter out Scanpix images, but the efforts failed to adequately address the problem.

Following a series of fruitless meetings in 2010 and the first half of 2011, Scanpix warned Google in June 2011 that it planned to take legal action to put a stop to the "unauthorized use" of Scanpix images.

A final letter sent by Scanpix in November 2011 demanding payment from Google by the end of the year was rebuffed, prompting the filing of the lawsuit.

"Ever since Scanpix contacted Google in 2008, Google has been aware that the use of Scanpix pictures requires consent from Scanpix," the agency wrote in its lawsuit.

"This condition notwithstanding, Google has continued to use Scanpix pictures as well as refused to pay for the use that has occurred."

Google responded to the lawsuit in a written statement issued to media trade publication Dagens Media.

Story continues below…

"Google respects copyright and provides rightsholders simple tools to control their content on our services. If someone doesn't want their material to be included in Google Nyheter, they can inform us using a commonly accepted web standard robots.txt," Google wrote.

The search engine added that it considers Google Nyheter to be a service which works to the advantage of publishers and rights holders.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:31 March 1, 2012 by Children Of Adam
Google is big thief! they are being sued everyday.

That is how they make money by allowing users to upload copy righted files or movies and clips on youtube for example. I wonder why the US government which closed megaupload why they dont take action on google?

Almost 80% of their income are from illegal contents on net.

I hope that Scanpix win this case.
23:53 March 1, 2012 by heu
@Children Of Adam: LOL, you clearly have no clue what you're talking about.

Scanpix is just trying to squeeze some money out of google. I guess they will end up hurting themselves bad if google decides to delete them from their databases.

As they mention in the end of the article, if they didn't want to have their images showing up on google, they could just use the robots.txt. I am sure google told them that in 2008 when they first complained. They clearly decided not to do so in order to pursue legal action.
06:43 March 2, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
The fact that Google have just changed their privacy policy, in a way that may well contravene EU law, indicates that they are not going to be easily frightened by either actual or possible legal action
08:56 March 2, 2012 by mattbrooks
@heu Amen! robots.txt would surely kept the google crawler out of scanpix pictures.

I find it very hard to believe that Scanpix could not afford one hour of one of their webmasters to set up a well defined robots.txt thats basic!! And if the robots.txt didnt help there are many more techniques to prevent hot-linking. Shame on Scanpix, either for their mischievousness or for their ignorance.
11:24 March 2, 2012 by a55
May I add here, that a few years ago 'The Local' used one of my photo from an article without my permission and with no compensation.... So there...
13:51 March 2, 2012 by Children Of Adam

I advise you to read the article carefully my son.

"Google also attempted to filter out Scanpix images, but the efforts failed to adequately address the problem". Why failed?
17:19 March 2, 2012 by Paul Greer
- probably means it didn't work.
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