Is Google Regretting Paying Off Belgian And French Newspapers Yet? Other Newspapers Demand Their Cut

from the like-that-wasn't-predictable dept

For years now, we’ve talked about how various newspapers (and local governments) around the globe were arguing that Google News was somehow unfairly cheating them out of revenues (even as they sent a ton of traffic to those sites, often to visitors who wouldn’t have visited the pages at all otherwise). Back in December, we saw that Google “settled” a long running dispute with Belgian newspapers, with part of it being an “agreement” to buy a bunch of advertising to effectively pay off the newspapers. Then, in February, Google did a similar deal in France, this time to the tune of $82 million. Of course, it didn’t take long for people to point out that this sets an awful precedent for the internet, as these legacy publishers now believe they have a legitimate argument that sites should pay to link to them.

And, of course, newspapers in lots of other countries were paying attention. While Google has insisted that those two deals “won’t be replicated” elsewhere in Europe, it appears that newspaper publishers elsewhere in Europe would like to test that claim. Media companies in Portugal are first up to the plate, demanding that Google pay up:

“Our position is that the content has to be paid for … We showed that our focus is to be paid for Google News using our news,” he said, adding that the two sides planned to continue regular meetings.

A Google spokeswoman said the company “does not comment on private meetings held by its teams”.

Maybe, next time, Google should stand up for its principles on deals like this, even in the face of political pressure. Because giving in and paying up only means that pretty much every country with a struggling media business (meaning, most countries) is going to come calling before too long…

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Comments on “Is Google Regretting Paying Off Belgian And French Newspapers Yet? Other Newspapers Demand Their Cut”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Sad thing is, google did do exactly that before, and the newspaper in question did have their traffic drastically decrease because of it, meaning it wasn’t long before they went back, cap in hand, asking ever so nicely if they could be relisted(though only after whining like spoiled children when google gave them exactly what they said they wanted of course).

What google should have realized is what anyone can easily see by looking at it, that being that the newspapers need google and the traffic it sends their way far more than google needs the headlines and mini-blurbs from the newspapers, meaning they should have just told the newspapers to get bent when they came demanding money.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Actually, you’re wrong. Without the headlines and the reporting, Google has nothing. Without Google, the newspapers have lower traffic, but at least they have something. And when people learn that Google has nothing, they’ll migrate back to the papers.

You’re just assuming that someone will defect and sell out to Google. That still means Google has to pay SOMEONE for the content. And boy do they hate that idea.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Poor bob. You really don’t get this whole interwebs thing. Let’s assume that all this ‘valuable’ content is pulled from Google News. What will people do?

Let’s see. Will they hunt for the content that was removed or will they just move on to whatever is most convenient?

Are there plenty of journalists offering the same ‘valuable’ content for free? Yup there sure are.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

And when people learn that Google has nothing, they’ll migrate back to the papers.

I don’t think so bob. News aggregation has completely changed how I view news these days. Why would I want to go back to looking through individual sources for stories that interest me when I can go to one place and find them all?

If Google isn’t providing the aggregation for me – someone else will.

Lurk-a-lot (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Nonsense. I get most of my news coverage from blogs and Google news. When I hit a news paywall I hit the back button and update my settings to ignore that news source. That means that they’ve lost me forever, along with any ad revenues they might have gained.

So in my view, rather than google having nothing, it’s the newspapers that have nothing without google.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

If I hear about an interesting article, I Google for it.

If I find it and read it, and there’s an interesting ad on the news page, I click that ad.

If I don’t find it on Google, I don’t go wandering through random news sites hoping they have it, I check Google the next day. If Google still doesn’t have it, then I might check Google again the next week. If they still don’t have it, I end up not reading the article.

And because I don’t read the article, I don’t see the ads on the news site page. I don’t click on interesting ads. And the news site loses out on the advertising revenue I represent.

I’m not alone in this behavior. By myself, the ad revenue I represent is negligible. But taking all the people like me as a whole, it’s very significant.

A newspaper that cuts Google out of the deal isn’t going to get my business. If two competing newspapers both have an article on the topic I want to read about, and one of them embraces Google while the other has taken its ball and gone home, guess which one makes money off of me?

Anonymous Coward says:

if Google thought for 1 sec that no others would be jumping on the band wagon, they must have been have a relapse! perhaps something like this happening will make Google grow a pair and start fighting, instead of letting the world and his wife walk all over it. like all other internet services, it relies on customers. no good doing that if it restricts some over others.

That One Guy (profile) says:

How the 'negotiations' /should/ have gone...

Newspaper rep: “I’m here today to present my client’s demand that you immediately begin paying them a fee for linking to their sites and using short excerpts based on the articles on said sites. As they are providing such a valuable service, which you are taking advantage of by generating ad revenue via the news services you provide that uses their articles, it is only right that you pay them for it. Failure to do so will result in a costly court case to force you to pay for yourmisuse of my client’s IP”

Google rep: “Okay.”

Newspaper rep: “Wait, you mean you… you’re willing to agree to the terms, just like that?”

Google rep: “No, I mean we will immediately remove any links or excerpts related to your client’s articles from their news services. As your client’s articles and sites are providing such ‘valuable services’, I’m sure they will have no trouble with this action, and will continue to be just as successful as they have been to date.”

Newspaper rep: “…”

Google rep: “Of course, if you were willing to bargain a bit, say, by signing a legally binding contract agreeing that the increased traffic your client’s sites and articles gain due to being listed on our news services was payment enough for our ‘use’ of your client’s articles, then we might see clear to leaving the links to your client’s sites up in the news services.”

Newspaper rep: “… Let me see the contract.”

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: How the 'negotiations' /should/ have gone...

Actually, you’re the one that’s mockworthy. Just what is Google going to fill the hole as the newspapers start dropping out? Oh sure, there will be some papers that stick around but the novelty is disappearing. The best papers are retreating behind a paywall as they slowly figure out that Google’s so called “exposure” isn’t worthy very much as ad rates drop to close to nil.

anonymouse says:

Re: Re: Re: How the 'negotiations' /should/ have gone...

How difficult would it be for Google to create a news department, having a few of it’s staff in different countries track down stories and write some small posts about them, simple and not very costly, maybe cause Google to have to hire a few hundred people around the world at most. Or hey could have a contract with one news entity to write all the stories and link directly to their site.
Google has actually been very thoughtful about the whole news thing, they have not taken anything away from anyone, they have just provided links to the various news sites and let them make money from their advertising.
As more and more newspapers put up pay walls they will see less and less traffic as people become more picky in the links they click on. I know for me i have a few links i don’t click on because i know i have to register, now if i had to register and pay…nope never going to happen.

I think i am like most people, i want to read the headlines in one place and click on what i find interesting, i don’t want to have to go through multiple sites pay them and have to search for any decent content that i am interested in.

The Google business plan is working for everyone, the problem is that nobody likes Google making money from their work, they want ever tiny little bit of income.

Maybe Google should start charging newspapers to have them in the list of approved exaggerators for Google news sites, maybe these newspapers would feel better paying up front instead of Google just getting advertising revenue from others which they would still be allowed to do if they were charging for posting links to newspapers.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: How the 'negotiations' /should/ have gone...

The best papers are retreating behind a paywall as they slowly figure out that Google’s so called “exposure” isn’t worthy very much as ad rates drop to close to nil.

Then why did the Belgian papers come back and ask Google to please add them back to Google News?

jackn says:

Re: Re: Re:2 How the 'negotiations' /should/ have gone...

The best papers are retreating behind a paywall as they slowly figure out that Google’s so called “exposure” isn’t worthy very much as ad rates drop to close to nil.

And then they wonder where everyone went. They are slowly figuring out that if no one knows about you, no one comes to u and ur paywall.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: How the 'negotiations' /should/ have gone...

“Just what is Google going to fill the hole as the newspapers start dropping out?”

Other newspapers/magazines/blogs that won’t demand payment.

Here’s one for you, boy…
Without Google, how will new readers find those papers who “dropped out”?

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re: Re: How the 'negotiations' /should/ have gone...

Who visits websites that have paywalls?

bob, one story you should know about is this webcomic, I forget the name cuz I never read it myself, but…

They were behind a paywall and they weren’t making any money, so, they decided to end the comic at the end of the month because they were going broke. they took down the paywalls…

By the time the day came for them to shut down, they had broke even. So they went another month. By the end of that month, they saw more profit in one month than they had at any time before.


What was that about paywalls again?

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And they might try that route, but it will get them nowhere. The free clicks are close to worthless and that’s all the newspapers can afford to pay for them.

Ads are worthless and they barely support sites like Facebook where the users do all of the writing. There’s no way that ads can support professionally researched publications.

So dream on. Google News is a terrible business model that’s almost as broken as Google reader. I wonder how much longer it will last.

Lil' Aussie Battler says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well Bob if online ads are worthless why are advertisers moving away from the legacy entertainment industries such as TV, radio and newspapers and following their audience online?
In Australia and I’m sure in many other countries as well the legacy industries are moaning about the price of advertising dropping and affecting their profits as viewers, listeners and readers head to the internet for their fix of entertainment and the advertisers dutifully following them. After all they are just following the money, sorry, “potential customers”. If their customers spent all their time in a crack whore’s den, well that’s where they would advertise at the expense of elsewhere.
Commercial FTA TV has been particularly affected here with one network almost broke (Ch10), another on the ropes (Ch9), with only one still doing OK (Ch7), whilst the part government funded network with commercials (SBS) is finding adverts just aren’t making money like they used to.

Newspapers have found their classified sections have practically vanished over the past decade as people now sell their stuff online. This has removed the rich, creamy profits from the top of the milk bottle, and the rest of milk in the bottle is turning sour as advertisers expect to pay less as fewer people are reading the papers these days. After all, who wants to read yesterday’s news today!
If online ads weren’t a good business decision then I wouldn’t expect the publicly funded BBC world news to be bothered with them, but lo and behold their pages are full of them.

So as you say “Dream on”

out_of_the_blue says:

Oh, poor Google! Having to PAY for the value it uses!

And they’re SO imposed on that have only $48 BILLION IN CASH left over! Which they’re keeping offshore to DODGE TAXES!

Anonymous Coward says:

“Actually, you’re wrong. Without the headlines and the reporting, Google has nothing. Without Google, the newspapers have lower traffic, but at least they have something. And when people learn that Google has nothing, they’ll migrate back to the papers.”
Let’s go with your hypothesis that all papers will defect away from Google. Google does not have ‘nothing.’ Google has many other business avenues to make money from. The papers do not. Google News is not critical to the business model of Google, but newspaper websites are pretty critical to the business model of newspapers.

And what century are you living in that people would have to go back to newspapers for news? Welcome to the internet, enjoy your stay.

special-interesting (profile) says:

Its now quite funny that now google will have to pay for gossip and with such bad precedent we may have to also. It would be a watershed Internet censoring event. It would be hilarious if not for that.

I hope google is able to cut them out of the news loop and they go out of business. Since news has traditionally always been an advertisement supported business model they need the links.

Many times have I visited sites via (which is ? that’ close to becoming a news generation site itself) just because of content and I hate clicking further. A site better have good content when arriving with no (obvious) pay wall or its most likely never clicked on again even if the link looks seductive. (burned once…)

I firmly believe in trying to maximize profits but it stops at the level of cultural exchange of ideas and concepts using new (definitely not unregulated) formats. (presently read that as talking about the news and sharing links or whatever clips over the ‘back (gossip) fence’ of news aggregation sites.)

Since copyright has not just slowed down cultural growth but practically obliterated it there is no excuse for the current terms, format restrictions (DRM) or enforcement nonsense. It helps and profits no one not even the firms holding the copyrights. 95% of copyrighted stuff just vanishes one year after publishing and the rest is held hostage to ruinous monopolistic pricing schemes that have no basis in manufactured cost.

It can be argued that there are more reason to get rid of copyright altogether than not. One of my better summarization posts: the usual wordy but self consistent culturally based argument.

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