Foreign publishers threaten Google over aggregation

The New York Times | The Atlantic | Monday Note

Brazilian publishers are boycotting Google News, and French and German legislators are saying "ancillary copyright" means the search giant should pay to display "headlines and the first few lines of an article," David Carr reports. Zeit Online Editor in Chief Wolfgang Blau tells Carr, "It’s a lost battle really, but for the time being, Google is an easy target.”

Publishers in those countries, Emily Chertoff writes, are ticked that Google makes more money from ads surrounding links to their content than they're making from their own ads. And there is a risk, Chertoff says, at least to people who enjoy Google News: "If enough countries' media opt out of Google News, they will either destroy the service or leave the search giant with no choice but to acquiesce to their demands for a 'Google tax,' " Chertoff writes. And Chertoff says the contagion could spread:

If Western European news sites also start jumping out of Google News, it raises questions not just about the viability of the Google News model for aggregating content but possibly, just maybe, about the viability of search as we now know it. Why? Many of the media companies that provide content to the main Google search engine -- not just the ones whose content also goes to Google News -- could conceivably have a stake in getting paid for their links. What would happen, say, if the New York Times wanted Google (or Google-owned company YouTube) to pay for links?

But Frédéric Filloux looks at the list of Google's most expensive keywords for advertisers and notices that "traditional media do not bring money" when it comes to them: "Insurance," "loans," etc. News just isn't that big a part of Google's business model, Filloux writes.

Legacy media must deal with a harsh reality: despite their role in promoting and defending democracy, in lifting the veil on things that mean much for society, or in propagating new ideas, when it come to data, news media compete in the junior leagues.

Related: Wall Street Journal reporter tries to figure out why "Obama" searches on Google lead to customized future search results, but "Romney" searches don't (Wall Street Journal)

Also related: In 2009, Rupert Murdoch was on a tear about Google but just two months ago finally relented and now some of his sites are indexed again by the search giant.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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