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The Media Businesses Google The Internet

Should Google Be Forced To Pay For News? 322

Posted by timothy
from the according-to-his-need dept.
Barence writes "The Guardian Media group is asking the British government to investigate Google News and other aggregators, claiming they reap the benefit of content from news sites without contributing anything towards their costs. The Guardian claims the old argument that 'search engines and aggregators provide players like guardian.co.uk with traffic in return for the use of our content' doesn't hold water any more, and that it's 'heavily skewed' in Google's favour. It wants the government to explore new models that 'require fair acknowledgement of the value that our content creates, both on our own site (through advertising) and "at the edges" in the world of search and aggregation.'"
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Should Google Be Forced To Pay For News?

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  • Not us. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:31AM (#27403579)

    I work in the online division of a particularly large paper.

    We work hand-in-hand with google and push to get as much content on there for free as possible.

    Because we, unlike our moron competitors, understand that these clips bring traffic to our site, which makes us money.

    • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:39AM (#27403713) Homepage Journal
      First....please, try to remember.

      The INTERNET, and the Web on it...were never created with the purpose of generating revenue for companies. You guys jumped on late in the game, and while you're welcome to use it for said purposes, it is not tailored to those purposes. If you don't like 'sharing' via the web, don't put it out there for anybody to see for free. It is public domain (or should be) at that point.

      If you don't want people or groups or other sites to access your freely publicized data....don't put it out there where anyone can get it. Either keep it off the web or put it behind a 'wall' where only paying members can see it.

      • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by OECD (639690) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:50AM (#27403871) Journal

        If you don't want people or groups or other sites to access your freely publicized data....don't put it out there where anyone can get it. Either keep it off the web or put it behind a 'wall' where only paying members can see it.

        Paywalls don't work well, so why do that when they can coerce a revenue stream with lawsuits and/or petitions?

        • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by perlchild (582235) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:56AM (#27403949)

          Nor would the only rational alternative. They don't like google, they can block google. They don't have to ask government to intervene in an area it has neither knowledge, skill nor particular legitimacy.

          • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Lord Bitman (95493) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:23PM (#27404321) Homepage

            There's the key. It is insanely trivial to get google to not index something. If they really weren't happy with what google was doing, they could just say "google, don't do that anymore", and google wouldn't do that anymore. (If I were google, I'd just respond by no longer indexing them, until they specifically request it.)

            This is clearly just a try for a quick easy payoff.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by rahvin112 (446269)

              There is more than one company out there that believes they deserve a cut of Google's revenue. They honestly don't believe Google does anything. ATT, Comcast, the RIAA, MPAA and many many organazations have made public statements that they think Google is "stealing" from them. It's not that uncommon for people to see a successful company and be jealous, it's just these days some of the MBAossers we have running companies suggest government should get involved and force Google to share their revenue.

              Remember

          • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by RDW (41497) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:58PM (#27404787)

            'They don't have to ask government to intervene in an area it has neither knowledge, skill nor particular legitimacy.'

            The full response, which you can read here:

            http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/GMG_DBIRResponse.pdf [culture.gov.uk]

            is as much a swipe at the BBC as at Google, etc. The 'BBC Trust', installed by the current government a couple of years ago to oversee the Beeb's activities, has shown a worrying tendency to bend over backwards to placate commercial competitors when they start whining about this sort of thing (the Trust are the guys who blocked BBC Radio 3 from releasing any more mp3s after a highly successful experiment with the Beethoven Symphonies, who mandated a 7-day expiry on DRM'd iPlayer content, and who are responsible for junking a range of popular BBC websites). I'm sure the Guardian group would love some pressure to be exerted to further reduce the activities of their main competitor in UK news...

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by UncleTogie (1004853)

              What caught my eye was this section:

              The argument has traditionally been that search engines and aggregators provide players like guardian.co.uk with traffic in return for the use of our content, and this is enough to make the relationship symbiotic and equal. However, there is a vast over-supply in the market of advertising inventory, and yields have come under severe downward pressure. As a result, the value of the traffic generated by search engines and aggregators has reduced significantly.

              Am I the only one that parses that as:

              We were happy to have the aggregators while ad revenue was at its peak. The bottom dropped out of the online ad market and we didn't react until too late. So let's take full advantage of our shortsightedness and keep even MORE traffic from the partially-ad-supported websites. That'll fix the problem!

        • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:30PM (#27404441) Homepage Journal

          Paywalls don't work well

          Well, as the parent said, the Internet is not now and never was setup as a means of revenue generation.

          so why do that when they can coerce a revenue stream with lawsuits and/or petitions?

          It's up to to companies seeking to profit from the Internet to figure out how to use the Internet as it exists to make money. It's not up the rest of the Internet to contort itself to somehow produce a revenue stream for a given company or industry.

          • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:50PM (#27404711) Homepage Journal
            "It's up to to companies seeking to profit from the Internet to figure out how to use the Internet as it exists to make money. It's not up the rest of the Internet to contort itself to somehow produce a revenue stream for a given company or industry."

            Unfortunately...the businesses have the politicians/lawmakers in their pocket. Actually, it is a testament to how WELL the internet and its protocols, and design with no ONE person in charge, that so far, as much as they've tried and keep trying, that it has not all yet been locked down, with no anonymity, for revenue generation ONLY.

            At least for now...anyone out of John Q.Public, can hook up a computer to it, and become a peer to any other computer out there.

            Frankly, I think it has to just "kill" those in charge that they got in late on the party, and cannot better control this medium and regulate it into uselessness for the masses.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              >>>I think it has to just "kill" those in charge that they got in late on the party, and cannot better control this medium and regulate it into uselessness for the masses.

              I'm glad. I remember the pre-web days when folks like AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, et cetera dominated the national computer communications. They produced little content and charged ridiculous rates (5 cents per email; $1 an hour) to access it. These services were also heavily censored by their parent corporations. Today's free-f

          • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:04PM (#27404853) Journal

            >>>>>Paywalls don't work well

            >>Well, as the parent said, the Internet is not now and never was setup as a means of revenue generation.

            Playboy.com seems to be making-out okay. They provide some stuff for free but 99% of the material is locked behind a paywall, and they are earning quite a bit of cash. There a couple other sites successfully generating revenue via website subscription too.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by speculatrix (678524)
          Indeed, in fact this happened in Belgium [infoworld.com] with them collectively asking for US$77M.

          Eventually the two reached a settlement whereby G didn't show their cached results [earthtimes.org]

          a history of the case [searchengineland.com]
        • Re:Not us. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nlawalker (804108) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @06:46PM (#27409999)

          "There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such a profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statute or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."
          - Robert Heinlein, Life Line, 1939

          Not intended to be any kind of argument or assertion, but it seemed appropriate given your post, and I like it, especially considering that it's 70 years old and is so relevant today.

      • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:17PM (#27404211)

        It kind of makes me wonder if there were groups of professional copiers who were pissed off 500 years ago when Gutenberg introduced movable type to Europe. I suspect that 100 years from now, the businesses that are bemoaning the freedom that the Internet provides will be footnotes in our grand children's history books; whereas the advent of the Internet will be regarded as on par with irrigation, the plow, and the printing press.

        It's hard for me to even get pissed off at the music, movie, and news agencies anymore; in a way, I feel sorry for them. They lack the imagination and creativity necessary to change in the face of massive technological upheaval. In 20 years they will either have changed so much as to be unrecognizable or someone will have risen up to take their place. Hand copiers of books lasted decades after Gutenberg's press was introduced, but their demise was just as inevitable.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Microlith (54737)

          There were. Specifically, the Church was. The Gutenberg Bible was famous for taking sole possession of the Bible out of the hands of the Church and making it available in mass quantities to the masses.

          They lack the imagination and creativity necessary to change in the face of massive technological upheaval.

          There's plenty of creativity. The masses just don't want to pay. There's no business model to compensate for that, so the only choice is to go out of business. Unfortunately this will hinder a lot of actu

          • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:32PM (#27405239) Journal

            >>>There were. Specifically, the Church was [pissed].

            Bzzzz. The Pope was one of the first persons to buy a printing press (3 in fact), so he could quickly disseminate his orders across Rome, Italy, and the whole of Europe. The Church of the Middle Ages was actually quite progressive - being the key employer of Renaissance artists, musicians, and engineers. If anybody was angry, it was the scribes who were laid-off by the Pope.

            >>>There's plenty of creativity. The masses just don't want to pay

            After the newspapers go out of business, the masses might not have any choice but to pay for their news, either online or on cable. Businesses just need to readjust to this new model.

            • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Informative)

              by blamanj (253811) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @05:03PM (#27408681)

              The parent is correct. While the Pope may have bought into printing for his own purposes, the Church objected mightily to the translations that were printed in the common language. William Tynedale was even executed for his work in translating the Bible into English.

          • Re:Not us. (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Znork (31774) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:48PM (#27405541)

            The masses just don't want to pay.

            The masses lack of desire to pay is really a minor part of the problem. The fact is that there is a vast overproduction of media; it's still geared towards smaller scale distribution. The single content creator who took up the time of five thousand eyeballs two decades ago can now take up the time of ten million eyeballs without any high distribution costs, yet we haven't gotten several thousand times as many hours per day to actually read it all.

            Add to that various other issues such as the (unpaid) comments on most sites being variously more interesting and/or accurate than the actual content, the excessive pandering of media to various influences, etc, and you have a situation where there simply is close to no scarcity vs. demand to capitalize upon.

            a lot of actually creative people in the process who would, you know, like to continue eating.

            They're welcome to get a day job and blog about their opinions or about what's happening like the rest of the world. You don't get paid to do something you want to, you get paid to do something you otherwise don't want to do. The lucky few who get to combine enjoyment and pay are those whose enjoyment is so deviant as to be in a field with scarcity.

            The desire to create, write, express and communicate is simply larger than the capacity for consumers to consume it. With the end result that there is no scarcity to make available any financial incentives.

            • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Interesting)

              by nschubach (922175) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:14PM (#27406021) Journal

              The desire to create, write, express and communicate is simply larger than the capacity for consumers to consume it. With the end result that there is no scarcity to make available any financial incentives.

              And with the Internet, we will either see works of literary art that is really good and deserving of popular praise, or it will be swallowed up and the poor writers will have been found out and put out of jobs. It's simply competition where competition was scarce before. Write meaningful and interesting works and people will suffer through whatever ads or subscription they deem suitable.

              The customer wins.

        • Re:Not us. (Score:4, Informative)

          by jdavidb (449077) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:08PM (#27404905) Homepage Journal

          It kind of makes me wonder if there were groups of professional copiers who were pissed off 500 years ago when Gutenberg introduced movable type to Europe.

          I don't know about that invention, but the invention of music notation [lewrockwell.com] pissed off the existing music-teaching cartel and resulted in retribution against its inventor!

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by FrozenFOXX (1048276)

          I suspect that 100 years from now, the businesses that are bemoaning the freedom that the Internet provides will be footnotes in our grand children's history books; whereas the advent of the Internet will be regarded as on par with irrigation, the plow, and the printing press.

          On the whole I completely agree with your post, however this bit is rather optimistic. Personally I think that in 100 years our grand children will have no books (no new ones anyway) and will be fighting with each other over drinkable water and safe shelter. But then I may be a bit pessimistic today.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Um, what, the GP said that the work hard to get Google to publish as much content as possible. It's something that's a part of their business model and apparently works in the interest of all involved.

      • The INTERNET, and the Web on it...were never created with the purpose of generating revenue for companies.

        ! C...cuh....coah....COMMUNIST!!!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        >>>If you don't like 'sharing' via the web, don't put it out there for anybody to see for free. It is public domain (or should be) at that point.

        Bzzz. A website is a private resource just the same as a physical store, and it has always been that way since the web's brith in 1992. The owners have the right to make stuff available, and yet restrict its use to their own store. (i.e. You can read books at Barnes & Noble, but you can't copy it on a digital camera/scanner and walk out with it.) I

    • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:40AM (#27403745)

      Because we, unlike our moron competitors, understand that these clips bring traffic to our site, which makes us money.

      If you're a small site, that might be a fair argument, and presumably nothing would stop you from voluntarily sharing your content with Google.

      On the other hand, given your claim to work for a particularly large paper, I have to be a bit sceptical. I happen to use the BBC News web site as my first news source of choice, and I don't need Google to tell me how to find them every day.

      That being the case, I find it hard to believe that high-profile, high-traffic sites like the Beeb really get more benefit from occasional search hits via Google than a news aggregator would get from scraping all of the headlines from the originating site, and I find Google's argument here to be wishful thinking rather than based on any real merit.

      Alas, I predict with some confidence that this Slashdot discussion will be full of people who think GMG are just upset about losing revenue, while paying no attention to ideas such as giving credit where its due and supporting the people who actually do the legwork to research news stories. I wonder if such people would rather live in a world where good quality, original news sources are only available to subscribers, and the aggregators are reduced to the level of Digg, Reddit, Slashdot and the like.

      • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:47AM (#27403839)

        How is Google making money on the news aggregation? I don't see any ads here:

        http://news.google.com/ [google.com]

        So presumably they are making money on search advertising:

        http://news.google.com/news?q=profit [google.com]

        How terrible of them to provide a service whereby people can search the news and then click to read the original stories (and they give a reasonable amount of credit right there on the search page...).

        • Re:Not us. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by GameMaster (148118) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:07PM (#27404085)

          There's an argument to be made that they are, indirectly, profiting through the strengthened brand they are creating by increasing traffic to a Google branded website but it is a weak argument. Of course, the whole premise is weak. Companies have been taking advantage of the things their competitors leave in the public domain, virtually, forever. Think about all the little businesses that use the location of stores like Wal-Mart, McDonalds, etc. to pick locations. They're taking advantage of all the work done by employees of those, larger, companies to pick locations with high profit potential due to things like high traffic, good visibility, etc.

      • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by clang_jangle (975789) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:10PM (#27404127) Journal

        On the other hand, given your claim to work for a particularly large paper, I have to be a bit sceptical. I happen to use the BBC News web site as my first news source of choice, and I don't need Google to tell me how to find them every day. That being the case, I find it hard to believe that high-profile, high-traffic sites like the Beeb really get more benefit from occasional search hits via Google than a news aggregator would get from scraping all of the headlines from the originating site, and I find Google's argument here to be wishful thinking rather than based on any real merit.

        I'm sure the big papers would rather have more readers like you. The real issue here is that google news is a sort of great equalizer, giving equal exposure and opportunity to many news sources large and small. It isn't that google is stealing their business, it's just helping to make many news sources available that people might not notice otherwise. And that's exactly what I like about it.

      • May I suggest that any news site which believes that Google is making money in a way which costs them lost revenue, ask Google to stop linking to them? If Google refuses to honor such a request, then is the time to rewrite the laws.
        The question comes down to this: do these organizations make more money because they are listed by Google (or other news aggregator)than they would if they were not listed by the aggregator? If the answer is yes, then the aggregator does not owe them anything.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tripdizzle (1386273)

        such as giving credit where its due

        This is done with the "By: (authors name here)" part of the article. Are there websites that are dropping this portion?

        and supporting the people who actually do the legwork to research news stories

        This portion is done by whoever the reporter/writer is working for. If that business has trouble collecting funds for their product, well, thats their problem, and they need to fix it themselves, not go running to the government for help/protection.

    • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jnetsurfer (637137) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:43AM (#27403789) Homepage Journal
      I know, I don't understand their complaint at all. Google is driving traffic to their sites. How is that a bad thing?
    • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anml4ixoye (264762) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:53AM (#27403917) Homepage

      Besides, if you really wanted to block them, wouldn't one just block the Googlebot? Or nofollow the entire site? Or robots.txt the entire site?

      What they really want is to be in the top of the search results without having to have the stuff out there. You can't have it both ways.

      • Re:Not us. (Score:5, Informative)

        by JWSmythe (446288) * <.jwsmythe. .at. .jwsmythe.com.> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:41PM (#27404605) Homepage Journal

            Actually, I had to REQUEST being added as a Google News source. A little while later we were reviewed and they determined that we were a news source and not just a link spammer, and voila, we were listed.

            Being added [google.com] and/or removed [google.com] isn't a big deal. The link is at the bottom of the main Google News page.

            The first time we were listed on the front page (at the top of the page at that), we were killed. Slashdotted to an extreme, if you will. A bit of improving, and now we don't notice when we're shown on the main page. Sometimes we're on the direct news.google.com page. Sometimes we're on a section, or a national page.

            Stories that are linked from the main page frequently get us higher traffic, but not always. Well, there will always be more hits, but it may not outrank other stories that we've historically run. In any case, any publisher that has advertising, that counts their views and clicks (like, ummm, anyone with a clue should be doing for years now), their income will increase from being linked, IF they have a quality story.

            I think they want to charge, because there's pretty serious competition. Just because my story is linked directly from the main page doesn't mean that it'll be there in an hour or tomorrow. It can (and frequently does) rotate the links to the more current story. So, I ran my story at noon. You ran yours at 2pm with updates, yours is more relevant.

               

    • The issue explained (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bananenrepublik (49759) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:04PM (#27404049)

      Since noone in this thread seems to have understood the issue, here's what I gathered after reading some German-language newspapers (I've not used google news in years, so please point out inaccuracies kindly):

      So far, everytime you clicked on a story on google news, it took you to an article somewhere else. I.e., everytime there was an interesting story on google news, somebody else would share the profit.

      But now google starts running news agency stories themselves. I.e., whenever someone clicks on an AP, say, story, they are redirected to a google news page that carries the AP story. Previously, it would have been some newspaper's page who happened to run that story.

      So far so good. But how does google news decide which agency stories to place on their front page? For that, they use the story placement on the various news sites they're aggregating, and this is where it becomes unfair because this work is an essential part of running a news web site -- unordered newsfeeds aren't worth much, as otherwise everybody would be getting their news from ap.org or whatever.

      In other words, by running stories from news agencies themselves, google has turned from someone benefitting the various news sites into a freeloader.

      • That makes more sense. I'd mod you up if I could.

      • In other words, by running stories from news agencies themselves, google has turned from someone benefitting the various news sites into a freeloader.

        No. If the AP wants to charge Google, they are free to do so. The papers that carry AP stories have not been granted an exclusive license.

        • by Bananenrepublik (49759) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:46PM (#27404685)

          In other words, by running stories from news agencies themselves, google has turned from someone benefitting the various news sites into a freeloader.

          No. If the AP wants to charge Google, they are free to do so. The papers that carry AP stories have not been granted an exclusive license.

          I'll reply to you, but others have misunderstood me the same way. The work a newspaper does is in large parts selecting which agency stories are interesting or relevant. Google lets others do this work for them without compensation. That's the problem. I would have thought that I had made that point quite explicitly in my first point but judging from the numerous replies, apparently I didn't.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pdbaby (609052)
        They're just automating the process of deciding what's new and interesting. Their sources are blaring it out onto the internet... if Google's only using them to form a consensus of what's interesting then I don't see what the problem could be
      • by AndersOSU (873247) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:26PM (#27404383)

        I don't think that's it. Google has worked out with a deal with the AP which allows them to carry that news directly. This deal undoubtedly involved google giving money to the AP. If the newspapers are unhappy that their particular rehashing of an AP article doesn't make the top of the list, they can cry me a river. If the newspapers aren't happy with the deal they're getting from the AP they should end that relationship.

        If a newspaper does it's own reporting google still links directly to the newspaper. No one knows exactly how googles ranking algorithm works, but suffice to say if you write the most popular article about a particular news story, you're going to be at or near the top of the list. There is a bit of a self reinforcing cycle here because as soon as google lists you at the top, you're going to become plenty more popular, but in theory as a story is breaking the news sources should be more or less on equal footing.

        All that said, I'd like to add that while plenty of people are giddy about the death of old media, I'm a not nearly so sanguine. I'm worried about the future of investigative journalism, and I've got to think that for every investigative journalist that huffpo hires, 10 are laid off from the rocky mountain news. Blogging has done a lot to give stories perspective, but there's a value in having full time reporters that i don't self-publishing freelancers are likely to equal. I hope whatever the ultimate outcome is, it involves dispersed funding, and that the more newspapers don't become vanity presses like the Washington Times and the New York Post.

    • by Gorobei (127755)

      We work hand-in-hand with google and push to get as much content on there for free as possible.

      Good for you.

      I've seen this happen a hundred times: a tech innovation comes along and disrupts a cozy business model.

      The immediate response is to fight it, but the tech improvement gets cheaper every year: no matter how you fight, the tech gets cheaper and better every year. Eventually, you find yourself proposing absurdities like hitting consumers with $100K/song for copyright violations.

      The more balanced respo

  • robots.txt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:31AM (#27403591)

    robots.txt?

    Or are they trying to get paid rather than make a point?

    • Re:robots.txt (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eln (21727) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:41AM (#27403759) Homepage

      They're trying to get paid rather than make a point.

      They have no leg to stand on under current law, which is probably why they're pushing for a new law. Google only lists stories. The small excerpts that are included are clearly short enough to fall under fair use provisions, and all they do is point people to the actual site with the content on it. But then, if you're a newspaper, meaning you're probably suffering the inevitable demise of your print publication, you'll look anywhere for opportunities to make more money to keep yourself afloat.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The article notes that opting-out would be online-suicide for the Guardian. Clearly what the Guardian needs is paid advertisements in its headlines. "Enjoy Coke While Gov Raises Taxes" "Fly Emirates to Escape Rainy Weather"
    • by Wrexs0ul (515885) <mmeier@@@racknine...com> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:47AM (#27403841) Homepage

      The big problem with your argument is: once you throw a reasonable answer at the problem it's no longer news-worthy. It's so easy to keep a search engine off your site the article would quickly become a technical how-to... and uninteresting to the non-slashdot masses.

      If you don't want to share then take your ball and go home. Google thugs aren't shaking-down editors, nor in the case of common feeds like the AP are taking anything beyond what they are allowed to. Close your doors, create a consortium-only system for sharing across "approved" sites, and you're good to go. The perceived money you're losing from not doing this already would easily cover the costs of developing and maintaining the system.

      Just hope enough people are willing to come over and only play with your ball that it pays the bills. I would have never found places like the Guardian [google.ca] without Google, and if they remove their content would never go back.

      -Matt

  • by Ben Jackson (30284) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:31AM (#27403595) Homepage

    If the benefit is so "heavily skewed" then it should be a no-brainer to ask Google not to index your news site.

    • by tolan-b (230077) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:42AM (#27403771)

      Indeed. They claim that the click-throughs they get aren't worth it, then say they couldn't live without them. So they pretty much by definition *are* worth it.

      I don't envy them though, providing online news is a horrible way to try to earn revenue.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by oldhack (1037484)

        "I don't envy them though, providing online news is a horrible way to try to earn revenue."

        So true. I come here for comments, you know.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tnk1 (899206)

          Have you ever paid for comments or news, or even so much as clicked on an ad? I know I haven't and probably most people have not.

          The site is free to me, and I patronize it because it is free. If they started charging, I wouldn't post or read here any more, I'd move to the next free site. So would most people.

          That is why providing online news is a horrible way to try and earn revenue. People do care about quality, but people expect a big difference in quality between free and paid for. If you can't prov

  • ...as much money. Please, government, bail us out of this mess we're in! Our shareholders profits are at near-record lows!

    The same issues are facing all news organizations, except for the few that actually embraced technology, or started pay for content long before news aggregates became en vogue.

  • OK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by COMON$ (806135) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:32AM (#27403605) Journal
    Then google will play fair, im sure these news agencies will miss being able to use google's services for free when researching...
    • Re:OK (Score:5, Insightful)

      by internerdj (1319281) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:39AM (#27403715)
      If that happens they are lucky. What would they do if someone with the market share of Google hired their own reporters? The content the produce wouldn't even be looked at.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sorak (246725)

      Then google will play fair, im sure these news agencies will miss being able to use google's services for free when researching...

      I work for a newspaper. Trust me, they don't research.

  • I call Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:33AM (#27403631)

    I just visited Google News two minutes ago, and clicking on the stories there takes you to the newspaper/media outlet's page, not some ad laden screenscraped Google version.

    All these people who think that the Internet should change because it doesn't fit in with their flawed idea of how things should work need to grow up or GTFO.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Camann (1486759)

      Exactly, Google isn't taking these news stories from them, rather it's generating traffic for the news websites. There's no reason Google should pay news sites to provide this service to the news sites.

      If they don't like it they can be removed from Google easily, I'm sure.

  • claiming they reap the benefit of content from news sites without contributing anything towards their costs

    Well, go ahead, be the first brave news source to ask Google to remove you from their caches. It'd be suicide. Even the article points out what you'd be doing:

    The Guardian says content providers are faced with a catch-22: they can't afford to withhold content from search engines, yet can't feasibly charge consumers for it either, "not least because of the presence of the BBC and the vast quantities of free content it publishes on bbc.co.uk."

    I'd like to hear and discuss the alternatives mentioned in the summary but can't find them in the article.

    Has the Guardian's online readership or ad revenue plummeted?

    Perhaps you should just learn to deal with Google acting as a portal and give your readers a reason to visit your site to read the whole article? This is overall a good thing for you--don't ruin it.

    Where is Google making the money and how could you scale fractions of that to go out to sites based on popularity?

    • by JaxWeb (715417)

      Sadly, the Guardian sells next to nothing despite it being by far the best newspaper.

      • Sadly, the Guardian sells next to nothing despite it being by far the best newspaper.

        If they are "by far" the best newspaper then what are they worried about? Google News puts them right next to every other newspaper and if their superiority is so vastly obvious, they should be stealing readers left and right from other newspapers. Readers who are used to trashy tabloids should read one article from them and switch their home pages to The Gaurdian, right?

        If you ask me, this is a result of newspapers fearing that people will go to Google News and realize that there are other viable & better news sources out there.

        News aggregaters simply mean that providers need to work harder to win eyes, it's putting them up against everyone else which is great for the end consumer. Once again, an industry is bitching about a great new technology that makes the end user's life a whole lot better but makes them work a little harder for their dough.

        • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:06PM (#27404075)

          they should be stealing readers left and right from other newspapers.

          The problem is ultimately that "being the best newspaper" is becoming more and more like "selling the best buggy whip".

        • "...people will go to Google News and realize that there are other viable & better news sources out there."

          +1 you win a cookie, that's likely what it is.

          Especially since Google doesn't seem to put any sort of highlight on which is the first/original source of the news, and seems to list them alphabetically (how do they decide which one gets the Title URL anyways?), that will likely be part of their argument even though it's basically impossible for Google to do that without having to be spoon fed the st

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by smallfries (601545)

        You middle-class commie scum :)

        (can't really talk, I tend to read the Independent myself. Just makes me middle-class liberal scum)

    • 1) They like to troll (maybe just to get hits).
      2) They also want to be a "Bridge Troll" collecting toll on a bridge they don't own.
      3) Their bias is quite disgusting sometimes.
  • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:34AM (#27403639)

    You'll notice when you load news.google.com - not a single ad. Click on ANY of the links... ads.

    Now then, who is making money from this relationship?

    Not only that, but there is a technical solution: check the referrer and if it is news.google.com throw the user to your home page so that you can pretend to "control" them. Or block them and let your competitors get the ad revenue.

    • by notaprguy (906128) * on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:43AM (#27403791) Journal
      You're assuming that most people look for news on Google by doing to http://news.google.com/ [google.com]. Most people go directly to www.google.com and search. For example, I'm looking for news about the death of extreme skier Shane McConkey so I do this: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Shane+McConkey&aq=f&oq= [google.com] At the top of that page is a news link (with ads to the right). When I click on the news link I'm taken here: http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&q=Shane+McConkey&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=pUfSSarBE52ctgOA8PjHAw&sa=X&oi=news_result&resnum=1&ct=title [google.com] That's a Google News page with a summary of a wide range of news topics on Shane McConkey...including ads to the right. Hence, Google is monetizing news content that they don't pay for.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dishevel (1105119)

        Hence, Google is monetizing news content that they don't pay for.

        OMG!

        Google is making money off of making me more money! What am I gonna DO!?!?!?!?!?

        Why are so many people such idiots?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MightyYar (622222)

        But that news search page you link to is no different from any other search page on Google. It's not an aggregator - it's a search page of publicly available web pages.

        Of course there's no point in being pedantic because the morons at the Guardian are also complaining about the search engine. I guess that they've never heard of robots.txt.

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        Hence, Google is monetizing news content that they don't pay for.

        No, Google is monetizing hyperlinks to news content that they don't pay for. But since when are you expected to pay for the privilege of linking to someone else's content? It's what Google and every other search engine does with every web page. Waaaaah, you can find my home page via a Google search, ergo Google should give me money? That's ridiculous! They're monetizing nothing more than the service they provide, which is the ability for

  • If they don't like their business relationship (insofar as one exists), I'm sure The Guardian is big enough that Google will deign to send their VP for something-something out there to negotiate some better terms. That's what VPs are for -- they manage these sorts of business relationships.

    I'm sure they can work out some sort of mutually beneficial arrangement ...

  • by Anonymusing (1450747) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:37AM (#27403683)

    There aren't even any advertisements on Google News. The Guardian seems to have at least two big ads on every article page (though, thankfully, not the home page).

    So, the money quote from the Guardian's statement is this: "The argument has traditionally been that search engines and aggregators provide players like guardian.co.uk with traffic in return for the use of our content, and this is enough to make the relationship symbiotic and equal.... However, there is a vast over-supply in the market of advertising inventory, and yields have come under severe downward pressure. As a result, the value of the traffic generated by search engines and aggregators has reduced significantly."

    In other words, if Google stopped sending traffic to the Guardian's web site, their ad revenue would go up!

    Err... wait.

    Did anybody think this through before going public?

    Ah, yes! They want to explore "new models" that "require fair acknowledgement of the value that our content creates, both on our own site (through advertising) and 'at the edges' in the world of search and aggregation." In other words, they want to tell another company, which offers a free service, how to run that free service, so it better supports their ad-driven service! OK, that makes much more sense.

    • FYI: the Guardian.co.uk site claims to get more than 25 million unique visitors [adinfo-guardian.co.uk] each month, for a total of 228 million page views (or "impressions"). Or maybe it's 14 million unique visitors and 94 million page views -- that page has charts which claim both sets of numbers. Maybe if they could decide exactly how many people visited their site, they could find ways of maximize revenue.

      If you were a frequent Guardian reader, could you pay a small fee to have an ad-free interface?

  • So stop linking to their content.

  • That makes complete sense. Why not cut yourself off from the biggest search engine. That way, when I'm searching the hundreds (thousands?) of news sites out there for some random term, your site won't show up. Because, of course, you know I visit each and every news site in the world daily, and Google is taking away from your revenue by pointing me to your site to read your articles.
  • RSS feed (Score:5, Informative)

    by Locklin (1074657) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:42AM (#27403783) Homepage

    The funny thing is that I've had the Guardian on my RSS feed for a while, mainly because their RSS feed contains the whole article, so I don't even need to click the link unless I want to see pictures.

    My feed reader might be "stealing" from them, but they seem to be encouraging it.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:45AM (#27403809) Homepage

    ...'search engines and aggregators provide players like guardian.co.uk with traffic in return for the use of our content' doesn't hold water any more..."

    Oh, really? Okay, when Google stops indexing the content of your rag, then you can look for its rotting body in the ditch next to the information highway.

    You should be glad Google isn't charging you to carry your stories.

    No longer holds water...okay, skippy, let's see you come up with a way to promote your site that doesn't include Google. Then I'll be impressed. Cause, see, in all the excitement, I can't remember whether we spidered your worthless rag or not. What you have to ask yourself...is do you feel lucky? Well, do ya...punk?

  • This piece of news seems to display enough idiocy to be immediately understood by all slashdotters as retarded. However, it's not idiot enough to grant just a couple posts about it being a dumb PR mistake that should never have seen the light.

    Such precision is uncommon.

  • Correct response (Score:3, Informative)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:46AM (#27403835) Homepage

    "So, you're saying that people can't tell anybody else what articles your paper has today?"

    That sums it up succinctly. Google doesn't (aside from it's cache) serve up the article. All it does is state what articles are available and where they can be found. Exactly what someone saying "Hey, the Guardian had this article yesterday on page 17, you gotta read it." is doing.

    Alternatively, Google should simply stop spidering the objecting sites. End of problem. Well, for Google anyway. The lack of traffic may cause a problem for those sites, but that's what they asked for.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:52AM (#27403895) Journal

    Who makes more money? The travel agent, or the vacation resorts? They travel agent NEEDS the resorts or they would have nothing to sell, but the resort is depended on the agent for their trade. If they are ignored by the travel agent, they don't do business as they are to small to attract their own customers.

    Same with hotels and hotel booking agencies. Who controls who?

    With google and the guardian it is pretty clear. Google is a multi-billion dollar company operating around the globe. The guardian a small british newspaper. This is in a way odd. It would be like the hotel booking agency being ten times the size of the hotels it refers to.

    Because that is what google does. It indexes the newssites for us visitors and then allows us to choose the ones we want to visit. For that service it charges a fee in the form of advertising. The amazing thing is that Google has managed to make billions out of this. They are the portal that works! What is even weirder is that the end destinations of us visitors don't seem to be able to make enough money.

    Imagine a travel agent that worked for free printing only a cheap add on your ticket, yet earned more money then the resorts themselves.

    Historically, these type of refferal agencies have always had an uneasy relationship with their end-users. Travel companies have long since tried to get independent of travel agencies, selling their own products or forming alliances to operate their own.

    Hotels love to have customers referred to them, but they hate that booking agencies can send potential customers to better/cheaper accomodations. Price compare sites are fought thought and nail by retailers. Hell, tv companies hate cable companies and expect them to pay for giving them the viewers that view their ads.

    Google is making money thanks to others people content. This doesn't sit well, espeically when the people making the content have trouble making money themselves.

    There is no easy solution. No content, no google. If news.google.com can't link to stories anymore, nobody would use it. Converserly, without news.google.com I wouldn;t vist half the news sites I do now.

    Frankly both need to figure this out together as they need to realise they need each other. After all the guardian has an obvious solution, block google, but they don't want that. They just don't want the referrer to keep all they money for themselves. Google on the other hand has every right to say "though shit". They refer viewers to news sites. That the newssites can't make money of this ain't their problem. What next? A cabbie got to pay a portion of their fee to the hotel they drive people too? On the other hand, that cabbie as google NEEDS these end destinations.

    But seeing the struggle in other industries makes it clear that this problem won't be solved.

  • They do pay... (Score:5, Informative)

    by cortesoft (1150075) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:54AM (#27403923)

    I work for the news wire AFP, and we have an agreement with Google to use our news.. and they DO pay us... http://searchengineland.com/afp-google-settle-over-google-news-copyright-case-10926 [searchengineland.com]

  • Lets see...in the past week The Huffington Post starts an online investigative team, Fox announces FoxNation, the Chicago Sun-Times joins the Chicago Tribune in chapter 11 and The Guardian whines about lack of online revenue to support its dying dead tree publication.

    It seems to me some people in the media are figuring it out while others are fighting tooth and nail to prevent the inevitable. News happens to fast for traditional media to survive, the days of everyone being in the dark for 24 hours till the

  • What if Google and other online advertising providers could allow for a linker and a linkee to exchange some fraction of their advertising revenue? This would acknowledge that some portion of the aggregator's revenue is the result of the linked content and that some portion of the content creator's revenue is the result of being linked by the aggregator.

    If the system were set up right, an aggregator that produces a great deal of additional traffic for the content provider receives a net payment while an agg

  • The Guardian claims the old argument that 'search engines and aggregators provide players like guardian.co.uk with traffic in return for the use of our content' doesn't hold water any more, and that it's 'heavily skewed' in Google's favour.

    Is The Guardian saying that their robots.txt file is not working? And that they are also not receiving the User-Agent string that allows them to identify GoogleBot?

    Frankly, I am skeptical. I think they are not interested in the free-market, opt-in or opt-out as you wish,

  • Cable news channels (CNN/Fox/MSNBC/etc) don't contribute to the gathering and reporting of news, they only regurgitate (over and over and over and...) that of news gathering organizations (NYTimes/Washington Post/WSJ/AP/Reuters).
  • Funnily enough, I just noticed that the favicons for the Guardian and Google look quite similar. Perhaps it's a conspiracy and "Googlian" is fighting with itself to drive up pageviews!
  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:19PM (#27404271) Homepage

    1.) Newspaper asks Google to pay for clips.
    2.) Google drops newspaper from news index.
    3.) Newspaper calculates the difference this makes in their revenue.
    5.) Newspaper offers to pay Google rather a lot in order to be re-indexed.

    Problem solved.

  • Or.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:04PM (#27404855)
    How about Google drops these whiny little bitches from their news service and let the news outlets explain to their advertising clients why they're suddenly getting a fraction of the page hits they were once getting.
  • a modest proposal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alizard (107678) <alizard@ecis.cCOBOLom minus language> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:19PM (#27410409) Homepage
    Google should simply not link to Guardian content in any way, shape, or form. Any attempt to access Guardian content on purpose via Google (e.g. site:guardian.co.uk any-search-term) should be diverted to a copy of the Guardian's legal complaint.

    While this would effectively make the Guardian publications disappear from the Internet, that seems to be what the Guardian is asking for. So let them have it.

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