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.

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

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26 Comments
out_of_the_blue says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Big Al says:

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.

Richard (profile) says:

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.

diego says:

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.

silverscarcat says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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!

Anonymous Coward says:

“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.

PaulT (profile) says:

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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