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One-Nil to Google against old media.
September 21, 2006 1:49 PM   Subscribe

One-Nil to Google against old media. As Inside Google says, the search engine "responding to Belgian newspaper’s complaints about being included in Google News and the Google cache, as well as a court ruling that they remove those newspapers from their services, decided to show them who’s boss and banned the newspapers outright from Google Belgium’s search results." Or, news organisation misunderstands the benefits of new media and pays dearly.
posted by feelinglistless (45 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
And the evil google retaliated for this news article by removing the page from the entire internet!
posted by delmoi at 1:52 PM on September 21, 2006


In other google news, they just hired the DCI group, one of the shadiest republican lobbying groups, and the ones who produced that anti-gore, pro global warming denier video on Youtube.
posted by delmoi at 1:55 PM on September 21, 2006


Can't remember where I saw it but the Belgian papers were upset with Google for caching to subscriber stories as opposed to free artilces.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:57 PM on September 21, 2006


No, no, no, don't you understand? Google is Right. Google is Always Right.

You'll forgive me if I replace "ballsy" with "petty." Maybe "bitchy," how's that work? Or maybe...what's the word I'm searching for..."evil"! That's the one!

That linked article reads like it was written by a 12-year-old.
posted by solistrato at 2:02 PM on September 21, 2006


Oh the site is back up. Anyway, I think it's pretty lame to cheer google on for censoring the Internet, or whatever. I don't even think they wanted to do it, but required to by the judge. The sycophantic blogger is just a moron.
posted by delmoi at 2:03 PM on September 21, 2006


"censoring the internet" is a bit of an overstatement, no?
posted by chimaera at 2:07 PM on September 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


If you were Google, why would you continue to link to someone who obviously does not want your assistance, and has demonstrated they will sue you if they decide they want their content not indexed?

Who is to say it wouldn't play out again next year with another lawsuit?

I certainly don't see Google as a "can do no wrong" entitiy, but I agree with them on this one.
posted by Ynoxas at 2:08 PM on September 21, 2006


Anyway, I think it's pretty lame to cheer google on for censoring the Internet, or whatever

Uh, since when is Google the internet? Yeesh...
posted by SweetJesus at 2:11 PM on September 21, 2006


I don't even think they wanted to do it, but required to by the judge.

That is the case:
"Google complied with the ruling, which threatened to impose daily fines of about $1.27 million against the Mountain View, Calif.-based company. Google is removing the Belgian newspapers from its indexes."
However, Google didn't comply with one facet of the ruling.
"Google, Inc. refused to comply yesterday with a Belgian court decision that required the company to publish the original text of the ruling on its sites, calling that requirement 'unnecessary' and 'disproportionate"...The court is scheduled to rule tomorrow on whether Google must publish the text [of the ruling on its Belgian sites, Google.be and news.google.be] or face fines of $634,000 per day."
posted by ericb at 2:11 PM on September 21, 2006


Ynoxas has the point -- if old media doesn't want to embrace new media and its possiblities to the point of hostility, why should new media help them along all the same?
posted by feelinglistless at 2:11 PM on September 21, 2006


Google is merely complying with the ruling and is not "show[ing] them who’s boss." Nor are they being "ballsy," "petty," "bitchy," or "evil." They are taking action which the court has ordered them to take.
posted by ericb at 2:16 PM on September 21, 2006


The "ballsy" action would have been to ignore the court order and pay "the daily fines of about $1.27 million" until some other ruling/appeal overturned the original.
posted by ericb at 2:18 PM on September 21, 2006


I fail to see how complying with a court order is "ballsy".

Brandon, Google has long had technical means to handle that. Many subscriber-only sites have turned off Google caching without going to a judge.
posted by dhartung at 2:23 PM on September 21, 2006


They say you can't have it both ways.

The paper didn't want Google to link to their copyrighted stuff. OK, fair enough, but what on your web page isn't your copyrighted stuff?

Even the argument that it's subscriber only stuff vs. free content might hold some water, but if the archives are what is subscriber only (which seems to be newspaper SOP), should Google really go back and reindex the paper every day to see what is now subscriber only? Who isn't going to want there current refresh indexed ever day? Why doesn't Google buy me a pony?

Eventually Google either is going to have to cave in to any number of demands about rights management and have a lawyer or two to spend their days reviewing every web site on the DANGER list, or say, "You don't want us to index your stuff? OK, we're very sorry. We won't index your copyrighted stuff."
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:26 PM on September 21, 2006


Seems like the papers could have solved the problem very easily with a robots.txt file, or am I missing something?
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:31 PM on September 21, 2006


For the love of Blake, all they need to do is put this on their pages:

[meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow"]

(but with anglebrackets instead of square.)

Then no one will search for them. Put in a proper robots.txt file and it's all good.

I think the Belgian paper was looking to vampirize Google for some cash instead of using a sane technical measure that Google honors.
posted by mephron at 2:33 PM on September 21, 2006


BTW -- Google dealt with a similar situation last year -- in France -- and they complied with that case.
"Last year Google removed content belonging to a French news agency, Agence France-Presse, after it sued alleging copyright infringement."
posted by ericb at 2:35 PM on September 21, 2006


Actually this is not a "new media" vs. "old media" thing, but rather very much "new media search engine" vs. "new media content provider". An online news source gets much more advertisement revenue from visitors to their homepage than to views of the individual stories. Any service such as Google News that deep-links to those stories skims the cream of the advertising revenue, leaving nearly nothing to the content providers. That is not a sustainable situation: either the content providers fight back or they'll go broke. Google can certainly win any fight against the French-language Belgian press. It isn't so certain that it would do so well against a coordinated reaction by, say, US print media.
posted by Skeptic at 2:35 PM on September 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


"'Google has a clear policy of respecting the wishes of content owners,” [David] Collins [a spokesman for Google based in London] said. 'If a newspaper does not want to be part of Google News we remove their content from our index; all they have to do is ask. There is no need for legal action and all the associated costs.'

...Google News benefits publishers, Mr. Collins said, by making it easier for people to find their content and driving large numbers of users to their Web sites.

'It is important to remember that we never show more than the headlines and a few snippets of text,' he said. 'If people want to read the entire story they have to click through to the newspapers’ Web site.'
posted by ericb at 2:40 PM on September 21, 2006


You know, way back when the US was the world's largest Berne-refusing pirate state that ignored established copyrights and patents, Associated Press was the "new media" Google of its day. It happily and blissfully lifted content from European sources and regurgitated it for US audiences.

That's why I was amused then AP was one of the first big news aggregators to finally get Google to pay up for the content it re-sells. AFP, Reuters are right in line.

Every "new media" group tries to get away for as long as possible without paying for anything. That's just naked greed. Google is no different than its historical predecessors.
posted by meehawl at 2:53 PM on September 21, 2006 [4 favorites]


mephron: meta lines are an ugly, ugly way to do that.

Better to do something like:
User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: *
...in robots.txt. More details here.
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:09 PM on September 21, 2006


What does Google do again? Is it one of those web 1.0 sites? Because I can't recall hearing of it since I upgraded my internet to the 2.0 version.
posted by srboisvert at 3:17 PM on September 21, 2006


This is a bit like the Pyrrhic victory of the ass-hats at ASCAP who netted a grand total of USD 0.00 by keeping the original versions of classic rock songs from appearing in the re-runs of "WKRP in Cincinnatti." Nice going, jackasses; I bet owners of those tunes are REALLY pleased with their residuals.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:33 PM on September 21, 2006


If you were Google, why would you continue to link to someone who obviously does not want your assistance, and has demonstrated they will sue you if they decide they want their content not indexed?

Because unlike an average person, their choices actually have a huge impact on the world, and as such they ought to act like adults, not bitchy 12 year olds. I don't see any reason to think they are here, but the blogger certainly is.
posted by delmoi at 3:39 PM on September 21, 2006


"censoring the internet" is a bit of an overstatement, no?

Uh, since when is Google the internet? Yeesh...


Yeah it was a bit of an overstatement, but I don't think it would be good if google started delisting people out of pettiness or whatever. The reality is that google really does control a huge amount of internet traffic.
posted by delmoi at 3:41 PM on September 21, 2006



Does google publish a list of banned content ?
Does anyone know what else is banned ?
posted by matholio at 3:42 PM on September 21, 2006


The Belgian case is weird in several aspects, actually. For one the verdict was reached on September 5, but only made public on Monday. Secondly, Google was never heard by the Brussels court. Or so they say. And Google will appeal, if only to point out that any paper that doesn't want to have its articles published on Google News just has to say so.

The verdict can be read here [pdf], but is a French fascimile.
posted by ijsbrand at 3:43 PM on September 21, 2006


O yes, I forgot to mention that the whole verdict is based on the testimony of a single expert named Golvers, according to whom Google News is nothing but a news service competing with newspapers while using their own material.
posted by ijsbrand at 3:48 PM on September 21, 2006


I still don't understand how any court was even involved. Why didn't someone at Google just tell them to modify their robots.txt file and be done with it? I can't believe this even went to court on something so frivolous!
posted by Mr. Gunn at 3:51 PM on September 21, 2006


If you were Google, why would you continue to link to someone who obviously does not want your assistance, and has demonstrated they will sue you if they decide they want their content not indexed?

If they in facto decided they didnt want their content indexed they would have a) used robots.txt b) made the request of google. Instead they sued looking for a payout/attention whoring.
posted by MrLint at 3:52 PM on September 21, 2006


This is a very interesting link, especially because on Monday week I start me new job, managing the NZPA's (New Zealand equivalent of AP) new media business.

Skeptic - I think the problem is that the newspaper's model is wrong and newspaper executives are applying "print thinking" about revenue to a new media environment. Success will not come from "fighting back" against google but adapting their business to survive alongside it.

One of the biggest issues print media face imho is the consolidation in the industry over the last two decades. This has created newspaper corporations that are large and cumbersome and often slow to respond to the dynamic new media environment they find themselves in today. This in turn leads to defensive, reactive strategies, such as this.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 4:43 PM on September 21, 2006


Samuel Farrow writes "This in turn leads to defensive, reactive strategies, such as this."


Or maybe some stupid lawyer just said thay had a good chance to win, overlooking completely the robot.txt (because it wouldn't be billable hours)
posted by elpapacito at 5:40 PM on September 21, 2006


Some folks in the newspaper world, recognizing recent trends...
Newspaper Sales Dip, but Websites Gain

Online Newspaper Ads Gaining Ground On Print
...seek to adapt/evolve...
Papers Take a Leap Forward, Opening Up to New Ideas
...and understand the role online reporting can play...
Net Is Fit To Print Scoops
...and the behavior of the marketplace...
Readers Flocks to Newspapers' Online Sites

Stop the Presses ... Go Online.
posted by ericb at 5:46 PM on September 21, 2006


meehawl writes You know, way back when the US was the world's largest Berne-refusing pirate state that ignored established copyrights and patents, Associated Press was the "new media" Google of its day. It happily and blissfully lifted content from European sources and regurgitated it for US audiences.

That's why I was amused then AP was one of the first big news aggregators to finally get Google to pay up for the content it re-sells. AFP, Reuters are right in line.

Every "new media" group tries to get away for as long as possible without paying for anything. That's just naked greed. Google is no different than its historical predecessors.


News is a high-turnover product, so having items listed in searches in real time should be extremely desirable to the publishers. Google doesn't publish news, it refers news, so how is that the same as Associated Press remarketing content? These papers may as well take legal action against news stands.
posted by zennie at 5:58 PM on September 21, 2006


Kickstart70: yes, it is ugly. But considering these people, I would expect little else from them. Apparently they can't figure out how to do a robots.txt file...
posted by mephron at 6:11 PM on September 21, 2006


These papers may as well take legal action against news stands.

The newspapers know they have the potential to get immediate revenue from the news stands.

You know, Google could use a revenue-sharing system for its news product. Similar to the putative deal between YouTube and Warner. Sell context ads, collect revenue. Apportion the revenue according to the face time shares or eyeball metrics of each news source as they revolve on the front page, perhaps weighted by clickthroughs.

There are a lot of ways Google could handle its content aggregation without appearing so greedy. It's currently shitting cash, but it is remarkably cheap when it comes to paying a vig to content owners. That is no way to make friends.
posted by meehawl at 6:33 PM on September 21, 2006


Interesting links ericb, thanks. I think the "patform agnosticism" from the second link is a step in the right direction. However, I don't think anyone has cracked the problem of generating fair revenue for online news content yet.

One New Zealand media outlet does accept goods from retailers and then sells them through its online classified market, and uses that revenue to pay for online advertising for the retailer.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 7:23 PM on September 21, 2006


Not that there is any particular reason why a bunch of locally owned news organizations should exist. They can be replaced by local bloggers or whatever. Most local companies will be better off doing geotargeted advertisements on larger sites, assuming that ever works.
posted by delmoi at 7:54 PM on September 21, 2006


Google doesn't make any revenue from news.google.com. Do you see any ads on that page?
posted by onalark at 7:57 PM on September 21, 2006


meehawl writes There are a lot of ways Google could handle its content aggregation without appearing so greedy. It's currently shitting cash, but it is remarkably cheap when it comes to paying a vig to content owners. That is no way to make friends.

What is the legal reason that Google, or any aggregator, would need to pay out? I want my links picked up because it helps me reach my market... or rather, it helps my market reach me. Once people are on my sites it's up to me to keep interest, sell my product or show my paying ads, and solicit contact info so I don't need the outside reference to reach them next time. So the search engines build the roads that bring customers to my door, and the aggs give me free endorsement, but they also owe me money because they're successful and they should share the wealth? Isn't that more like a sugar daddy than a friend?
posted by zennie at 8:07 PM on September 21, 2006


Aren't they actually competing directly with newspaper sites now tho? And don't oldtime news organizations and paper see them as competition (competition that has an unfair advantage, being both wildly popular search engine and (lame) online newspaper of sorts?)
posted by amberglow at 9:30 PM on September 21, 2006


I also think to throw into the mix for consideration is that the online news market is very new and will mature and change in the years ahead. News consumers (to borrow zennie's metaphor) might not need roads to get to news producers in the future.

And I hadn't noticed the lack of ads on google news onalak, that is very interesting.

I wonder whether google news is going to remain relevant?
posted by Samuel Farrow at 9:52 PM on September 21, 2006


What is the legal reason that Google, or any aggregator, would need to pay out?

According to the WSJ article I saw about this, the Belgian papers are making the claim that by linking to full headlines and a snippet of the first lines of the articles, Google is providing enough news that some people don't then continue to the Belgian newspapers' sites. Google is not paying for this service - a service the Belgian newspapers say they are spending a lot of money to provide - and is making money in the process.

A newspaper rep said that asking Google to not link them at all doesn't address the deeper point, which is that Google apparently sees no monetary value to the contributions of the newspapers in Google's profit-making scheme. This doesn't seem that unreasonable. It's unworkable, probably, but there's at least some kind of logic there beyond "how dare they send people to our sites!" It seems unfortunate that the wording of the judge's ruling is apparently allowing Google to not address that deeper point. It'll be interesting to see how it works out.
posted by mediareport at 7:52 AM on September 22, 2006


Pretending that any given company is not trying to take as much advantage as it can out of as many situations as it can is simply dellusional. Google right now kicks ass in many interesting areas. This in turn maximizes the oportunities for other companies to take advantage of them. And take advantage they will ... try. Why would google take it in the chin? Specially over something as idiotic as choosing to go to court over editing a robots.txt file. I think hitting them right back where it hurts most is not acting like a bitchy 12 year old, but rather acting like a responsible adult in a world full of very greedy adults. I don't expect any significant change of attitudes in the business world any time soon.
posted by magullo at 8:11 AM on September 22, 2006


Notice to Belgium newspapers: It's called robots.txt. Look it up. Google it. Learn it.

On a related note, your newspaper business is going to die in the next 20 years. May as well start packing up now.
posted by triolus at 11:44 AM on September 22, 2006


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