A few weeks ago, Google cut a deal with Agence France-Presse allowing it to include the agency's stories in Google News. This resolved a long-running dispute between the two sides, as AFP had claimed that just by linking to its stories, Google was in violation of copyright law. The law was solidly on Google's side, so it didn't make much sense for Google to settle with AFP, since it seemed like it would obviously set a bad precedent. Not surprisingly, other news organizations may now be looking for similar deals. In a recent speech, the editor of the UK's Daily Telegraph asserted that companies like Google and Yahoo were building businesses on the backs of newspapers without proper recognition. Bizarrely, he prefaced this comment with the acknowledgment that newspapers should embrace new media. So there seems to be a mental disconnect here. Commenting on this, Roy Greenslade at the Guardian seems to take much the same view: Google and new media are good for newspapers, but newspapers still deserve some sort of extra compensation for letting Google link to their content. This view really doesn't make much sense. Getting linked to from Google is clearly a boost to newspapers' websites, because it's a major source of traffic, which is paramount for monetizing the web. The reason that newspapers are seeing their profits deteriorate isn't because Google is parasitically pilfering their content, but because the internet has changed the news business and eroded their monopolies. As always, if any newspaper feels that its not getting its just due from Google, it's simple to opt out of the system and give up all of the traffic and attention that comes with it.
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