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Would Google News Get Sued For Making Money?

from the seems-like-a-stretch dept

Adam Penenberg's latest column in Wired News is suggesting that the reason Google News is still in beta 3 years after launching is that, if they did decide to monetize it by putting up ads somehow, they would quickly get sued by news organizations upset that Google was making money off of their material. While the column is written as if that's a fact, it's not clear that's really true at all. While certainly there are some companies that have decided they don't want Google News linking in, it's the same as the old "deep linking" controversy from years ago, that most people have realized is silly. Google News is a channel that drives more traffic. It's just like their regular search engine, which monetizes the content on regular (non-news) websites by putting up ads while driving traffic. Those sites that get the traffic are usually happy -- not upset that Google is sending them visitors. The article suggests the specific problem isn't necessarily the deep linking, but the fact that Google News runs the headline (which some have said are not copyrightable) and the first paragraph of the article. However, there are other companies that have monetized similar offerings to Google News without such legal problems. Topix has ads on their news feeds. Yahoo News run ads (which Penenberg mentions in the article, but doesn't explain why it's different). In both cases (and with Google News), many news sites approach the sites about getting included -- so it appears that many realize this is a good way to get more visitors and are unlikely to sue. Plus, there are plenty of blogs or mailing lists that, rather than writing their own summary, simply clip a paragraph (or more) and don't seem to be getting sued. About the only reason Google would get sued for doing this is because they happen to have a lot of money, so they would seem like an easy target, rather than any legitimate legal claim.

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