Monday, July 18, 2011

Google plays hardball

Last May Google lost a lawsuit to the Belgian newspaper consortium, CopiePresse, over Google News linking to their newspaper stories without permission or compensation. Today they're firing back in a big way - by blocking all search results to the newspapers in question altogether.

Google claims they're only complying with a court order. CopiePresse claims they have no objection to having their stories referenced in search results; they only object to some of the content appearing in the Google News results and that Google is deliberately obscuring the difference between search results and copying content.

That's probably true, so some extent. But I've never found that Google News provides me with much more than the headline anyway; if I'm interested in a story, I still have to click through to read more than a sentence or two. So I've never understood the absolutist position that some newspapers take on this issue. It's free advertising! Imagine if movie studios tried to claim that tv stations should pay them for showing movie trailers? No, the fiscal incentives run the other way; studios pay tv to advertise their movies. Google is trying to prove to CopiePresse that the incentives do indeed run the other way and, because they're complaining about it, CopiePresse seems to secretly agree.

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