AFP and Google sign deal on copyright

News agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) has agreed a deal with Google to end a two year legal battle over its Google News service. The deal settles a case which was worth up to $17.5 million to AFP, though the commercial details have not been released.

AFP launched its suit in 2005 alleging that Google infringed its copyright when it re-published its headlines, stories and photographs. AFP is usually paid by newspapers to use the material. The case has been dropped after the two companies agreed a licensing deal for AFP's content.

The deal allows Google to use AFP content and AFP has agreed to drop its lawsuit. AFP chief executive Pierre Louette said that its material would once again be appearing on Google News, but that it could also be used in other Google products.

"The agreement will allow uses of AFP's content in ways that go beyond its typical use of content in Google's services, which features just headlines and snippets of text to provide just a taste of what an article offers," said Louette said.

The deal comes in the aftermath of a bruising legal battle in Europe in which Google lost to Copiepresse, an association of Belgian newspapers which claimed copyright infringement by Google News.

The deal also follows an agreement made last year between Google and news agency AP which involved the licensing of AP's material. That deal did not result in AP material appearing on Google News. The companies said at the time that the AP deal would form the foundation of a new, yet to be unveiled, product. No such product has yet been announced.

Like Copiepresse, AFP had sought a ruling that Google must obtain prior permission before using its content. Google has always argued that the fact that it is prepared to take down material once it is published is sufficient to comply with copyright law.