In a fascinating legal case that has far-reaching ramifications for the future of the news business, French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) is suing Google Inc. for the way that Google News displays AFP stories and photos.

We haven’t read the complaint but reports indicate that AFP is claiming copyright protection. Google News (which is still “in beta” after several years) uses machine based algorithms to create a news front page for users can search across thousands of news sources. Clicking a story takes the user to the publisher’s site for the full text of the story.

The courts will have the difficult task of sorting out just how much value Google adds to the news and how much linking to AFP stories harms news organizations that subscribe to the AFP feed. We’ll be watching this case. At Newstex, we’re huge believers in the power of news, blogs, and commentary as part of information products and services to help organizations work smarter. Google News is useful for many people, but as a stand alone Web page, Google News is very different from valuable information services that integrate newsfeeds into the applications and services people use everyday in their work.