Belgian Newspapers Agree To Drop Lawsuit Over Google News After Google Promises To Show Them How To Make Money Online

from the baby-steps dept

As we've been reporting, there's been a movement underway in many countries to argue that something like Google News -- which displays headlines, brief snippets and links to full news stories on newspapers' own websites -- somehow violates newspaper copyrights. This makes no sense logically, especially given just how much those same sites likely spend on "search engine optimization" to try to get better ranked in search engines. The only explanation for it that makes sense is the most obvious one: the newspapers are struggling to find ways to make money these days, and they see that Google is making a lot. Hence: come up with a plan to force Google to fork over some of that revenue. Of course, the very first to do this -- years before Germany and France and others got into the game -- was a group of Belgian newspapers who sued Google for sending them traffic. Amazingly, a local court agreed with the newspapers and told Google to pay up. Following this, Google removed those newspapers from its index, leading the newspapers to freak out and demand to be put back in.

The somewhat acrimonious legal dispute continued, until now. Google has announced that the news publishers have agreed to a "settlement," where the terms are somewhat hilarious. Basically, it looks like they've agreed to drop the lawsuit... if Google will teach them how to make money online:
  • Promote both the publishers’ and Google’s services - Google will advertise its services on the publishers’ media, while the publishers will optimise their use of Google’s advertising solutions, in particular AdWords to attract new readers.
  • Increase publishers’ revenue - by collaborating on making money with content, both via premium models (paywalls, subscriptions), and via advertising solutions such as the AdSense platform and the AdExchange marketplace;
  • Increase reader engagement - by implementing Google+ social tools, including video Hangouts, on news sites, and launching official YouTube channels;
  • Increase the accessibility of the publishers’ content - by collaborating on the distribution of the publishers original content on mobile platforms, in particular smartphones and tablets;
It's good to see the whole thing settled, but, really, the settlement itself seems somewhat silly. Google's agreement to buy advertising with those publishers is the "payoff" bit (apparently to the tune of approximately $6 million -- and which allows both sides to claim "victory"), but the focus on effectively teaching the publishers how to "do internet stuff" just shows how ridiculous the original lawsuit was in the first place.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    fogbugzd (profile), Dec 13th, 2012 @ 12:51pm

    Google would love to be sued more often if it could get terms this sweet from every lawsuit. They agree to do a bit of business with the plaintiff and in return the plaintiff does a 100% buy-in to the Google sphere of influence.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 1:41pm

    It's not just "somehow"

    "somehow violates newspaper copyrights." -- This is easy, Mike. Google has nothing to index without others producing it. The links MAY help those others -- that's open to argument, but there's NO doubt about who comes first in the relation.

    So if Google has to pay for its content, that's just. If it's lumped in under "copyright", that's fine. It's an evolving area.

    Google must not be permitted to just waltz in and take whatever it wants, though. Won't be good for one corporation to exercise that power. It'll squeeze its "manufacturers" ever more as its power grows, just as Wal-Mart did, and the result will be bland "Masnicked" News: re-writes long on ad hom and pejoratives until wanders lamely into a question, relying on readers to try and find meaning in it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 1:56pm

      Re: It's not just "somehow"

      robots.txt says youre a flaming retard.

       

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        MrWilson, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 7:45pm

        Re: Re: It's not just "somehow"

        OOTB regularly runs around town completely naked and accuses anyone who sees him of being a peeping tom since they're clearly spying on him. He's not responsible for covering up. They're responsible for averting their eyes or else paying him for the show...

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Dec 15th, 2012 @ 8:50am

          Re: Re: Re: It's not just "somehow"

          Flashers are often masochists who get off on self-humiliation/self-degradation and feeling of being scorned by society, so your flight of fancy actually fits OOTB's personality quite well.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 2:12pm

      Re: It's not just "somehow"

      Everything indexed is indexed with permission, it's easy for people to pull their content off of Google with a robots.txt file. Just because you're too dumb and lazy doesn't mean the whole world should be forced to cater to your lazy stupidity.

      Oh, wait, I think your post might be sarcasm.

       

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      Big Al, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 2:12pm

      Re: It's not just "somehow"

      Maybe you missed the part of the article where Google said 'We don't want to pay, so we'll just remove the papers from our index so we don't have to pay" (quite legally) - and then the papers went into conniptions because there were no pointers to them anymore.
      You see, this is a two-way street. Google gives directions to the sites so people can find them, increasing ad eyeballs at the paper. Remove the directions and they fade into online obscurity, hence a drop in revenue.
      Like it or not, a snippet of an article or a headline comes under fair dealing, especially where it can be shown that the 'victims' traffic and ultimate revenue increases due to it.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2012 @ 5:04am

        Re: Re: It's not just "somehow"

        "Maybe you missed the part of the article ...."

        That is the mistake you made,
        OOTB didn't get past the first line.

         

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      Richard (profile), Dec 13th, 2012 @ 2:16pm

      Re: It's not just "somehow"

      HUh- your arguments against Google sound just like the newspapers arguing against the BBC in the 1920's.

      In its earliest days, the newspaper industry successfully ensured that the BBC could not compete with its monopoly of news services. The Company was forbidden from broadcasting news until 7pm each day. When newspapers ceased to be published during the General Strike of 1926, the public turned to their radios for news.

      Just as in those times the newspapers will sooner or later have to face reality.

       

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      diego, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 2:33pm

      Re: It's not just "somehow"

      It's no different than a telephone directory. Take existing information, categorize it in a useful way and sell the best positions to companies who want to promote themselves. Telephone listings are NOT subject to copyright (see Feist vs Rural).

      Regarding Google squeezing manufacturers. They are not Walmart. If they try to squeeze their clients these can just go to another service for a better price. Since it's the internet, all aggregators have just as much reach as Google.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 2:35pm

      Re: It's not just "somehow"

      What you seem to desire is traffic pirating. You want all the internet traffic without having to pay for it. It's pirating and it's wrong.

       

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      silverscarcat (profile), Dec 13th, 2012 @ 2:37pm

      Quit lying, ootb

      copyright is not evolving at all.

      To evolve, one must change.

      Copyright can't change.

      Therefore, it is not capable of evolving.

      Things that can't change and evolve with the times invariably die off.

      Maybe if the copyright holders didn't push so hard to lock it into one position, copyright could have evolved for the modern age.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 5:55pm

      Re: It's not just "somehow"

      Google 'takes' nothing in this equation. They show a sentence or two and link to the news site. If everything you need to know is condensed into a single sentence, then of what value is the rest of the article? Besides, Google agreed to stop indexing their stuff (which any competent web builder could have showed them how to do in the first place), and what did they do? Wailing and carrying on about how they're losing profits because Google is NOT indexing them. Can't have it both ways!


      Idiot.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 1:43pm

    and once Google has shown them how to do whatever, back they'll come with more demands. i cant believe Google so be so gullible and so stupid! what has happened to turn them into one of the most gutless entities on the internet? too much interference and needless blame from US Congress, i bet!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 2:33pm

      Re:

      This is a severe slap at the publishing industries' face, but it is also signalling will to cooperate from Google. The peanuts Google have to waste on those publihsers is nothing compared to the potential they get in their commercial networks by cooperating!

      Also, making it publically available is a masterful move. You have to be aware that quite a few politicians have a far greater knowledge of what happens in courtrooms than what happens in the world laws affect and this settlement will certainly make a lot of their desks!

      Google is not the big arbiter of freedom and openness anymore, but they are showing how to use these things to your advantage in court and in politics. I would not be surprised if Google went beyond the demands in the law to show what they have been lobbying for and how it is going for them!

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 2:09pm

    "As we've been reporting, there's been a movement underway in many countries to argue that something like Google News -- which displays headlines, brief snippets and links to full news stories on newspapers' own websites -- somehow violates newspaper copyrights."

    These are the same arguements that the MPAA/RIAA and copyright holders use with regards to websites who have links on there site that they are loosing money etc.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 2:10pm

    It sounds like they may want to try and get Google to direct people who search for news to paywalls instead of free alternatives in an attempt to frustrate readers into paying for news.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 3:15pm

    It always comes back to hey do our jobs for us. Also Google should just do this anytime a news paper company complains. Okay we will just delist you and you can see that money disappear.

     

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    McCrea (profile), Dec 13th, 2012 @ 4:58pm

    We used to not feed the trolls

    There's a lot of techdirt articles these days where the majority of comments are all responding to one obvious idiot.

     

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      nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Dec 13th, 2012 @ 6:57pm

      Re: We used to not feed the trolls

      Non pascentur in troglodytae.

      I've noticed this too.

       

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      PaulT (profile), Dec 14th, 2012 @ 1:07am

      Re: We used to not feed the trolls

      Meh, what else is there to discuss in this article? The newspapers are clearly in the wrong, the concepts behind the reason why are clear to anyone who understands how these things work, and they've also been discussed many times in articles on the same subject.

      If it weren't for the piling on to the moron, there'd be nothing to say here other than "I agree" or "well, they finally admitted they don't know what they're doing". Which would be just as boring.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2012 @ 5:08am

      Re: We used to not feed the trolls

      But you only have a couple of replies so far, I would hardly call that 'all responses'

       

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        McCrea (profile), Jan 11th, 2013 @ 1:38pm

        Re: Re: We used to not feed the trolls

        Yes, but as PaulT responded, this article was quiet. I hadn't noticed an article about trolls to comment on the past month, so I put it here. Sorry to offend you.

         

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    orbitalinsertion (profile), Dec 13th, 2012 @ 11:22pm

    I want to vote "funny" on the legal proceedings.

     

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