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Commentary: Make Google Pay for Using Newspaper Copy

Here is a must-read commentary from Peter Osnos of The Century Foundation. He starts by writing of this bit of news from last week:

…for the media business nothing was more important than Google’s settlement with book publishers of law suits challenging the right to digitize copyrighted books for search and distribution without paying for them. Google will pay $125 million to the plaintiffs, publishers, and authors, and will cover legal fees for what was a protracted haggle.

Then writes:

.. the major point is that Google has now conceded, with a very large payment, that information is not free. This leads to an obvious, critical question: Why aren’t newspapers and news magazines demanding payment for use of their stories on Google and other search engines? Why are they not getting a significant slice of the advertising revenues generated by use of their stories via Google?

… Google makes a fortune. The leading Internet service providers and telecommunications giants like Verizon are doing fine also (Verizon’s profits were up 31 percent in the third quarter of 2008). But key providers of the news that flows through their digital services are being asphyxiated to an extent that is a massive threat to our information culture, a pillar of our democracy. It’s that serious…

…the issue itself is very clear: the collection of quality news is expensive, and it is seriously threatened. Google drives a very hard bargain in pursuing its business interests, but can be brought around by persistence and grit. There is a vast amount of money changing hands for news these days. A way has to be found—and fast—for those now making money from the distribution of news to pay for it.

2 Responses to “Commentary: Make Google Pay for Using Newspaper Copy”

  1. R.R. Rodgers Says:

    The same question I used to ask myself about AP and broadcast (radio and TV) that would read my stories word-for-word over the air unattributed because they were members of AP. A cooperative, yes. But I could never see what we in print got in return. So, we in print, would fill their news hole through our efforts. It was, then, a small step to turning over our long hours of labor to various aggregators who have found the modern advertising business model to wrap around the news hole product we have unprotestingly turned over to them. Of course, to say so is to be flamed as some sort of proprietary 20th-century dinosaur.

  2. quirkyalone Says:

    I think the problem is, that Google is not using their stories, they just link to them, and that is (and should be) legal. Moreover, Google sends them visitor, which they can monetize by selling ad space on their web.

    Also, Google is making money because they have advanced technology for distributing ads, and journalistic content is only one part of the web. So Google would make money without newspaper websites all the same.

    And the third and most substantial thing is, that any website can opt-out from being indexed by search engines.