After losing its appeal
on Friday, Google relented
and actually has posted the entire text of the ruling against it on the Google.be
site. It does look a bit odd to see so much text on a Google homepage, though, Google put it in a tiny font and without any formatting at all, making it pretty difficult to read. It's still not at all clear what purpose this serves. Speaking of serving pretty much no purpose at all, it turns out that, in the wake of all this, a bunch of European newspapers are trying to create a new system
by which they can tell Google not to index them. If this sounds suspiciously like the already available robots.txt file, you'd be right. In fact, in explaining the reason behind this, the publishers working on this state: "Since search engine operators rely on robotic 'spiders' to manage their automated processes, publishers' Web sites need to start speaking a language which the operators can teach their robots to understand. What is required is a standardized way of describing the permissions which apply to a Web site or Web page so that it can be decoded by a dumb machine without the help of an expensive lawyer." You know... if they only had a search engine, where they might do some searches to see if something like that already existed, it might help. But, I guess that according to many of those publishers, that would be copyright infringement.
To be fair, it does sound like these publishers are looking to put together something that goes a bit further than robots.txt, but it still looks like they're reinventing the wheel, rather than working on top of what's already there. Once again, though, this seems to all go back to the jealousy
issue. This isn't about protecting content. It's about being jealous that Google has built a successful business making their content more valuable -- and they feel that the increased traffic and increased ad revenue isn't enough of a payment. It still takes quite a misunderstanding of the internet to complain when someone gives you traffic that they're not paying you enough for it. It wouldn't be unfair to then suggest that Google stop sending them traffic altogether. These publishers seem to assume they're in the power seat here, and that it's their content that makes Google valuable. That's not the case. The value in Google is its ability to make that content easier to search and find. If the publishers want to go back to the days when it was harder to find their content, that's their problem -- but it seems quite likely they'll regret it if that comes to pass.