Surprises

by Mike Masnick




Why Should AFP Need To License The Right For Google To Link To Its News Stories?

from the but-now-what dept

Two years ago, the news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) bizarrely sued Google for linking to its news stories via its news search engine, Google News. This made very little sense, as it basically made it much harder for people to find or read AFP news. In a highly competitive news market, making it harder to find your news isn't a particularly intelligent strategy. This actually made a number of news sites that licensed AFP news quite angry because they lost a ton of traffic that Google News drove to their sites. A similar story played itself out recently in Belgian courts with Google being barred from linking to certain Belgian newspaper sites as well. However, the AFP lawsuit was still out there, until today, when Google and AFP announced a settlement, including a license from AFP to put its stories back into Google News.

Unfortunately, there aren't that many details. It's unclear if Google paid any money for this "right" or if AFP finally came to its senses and realized that cutting yourself off from Google isn't particularly useful. Either way, though, it still sets a bad precedent that Google had to secure a special license to link to content. There's simply no need for a license to index and link to content -- and Google agreeing to a license from AFP just means that now other publishers will start lining up claiming that Google should pay them as well. It's the same thing that has happened since content companies discovered Google was willing to pay off record labels for having their content on YouTube. That eventually resulted in just about every media company lining up for its own cut -- and, eventually to Viacom's decision to sue for $1 billion, when Google wouldn't pony up as much as Viacom wanted. Google is setting a bad precedent here, agreeing to license content it doesn't need to license, and it's only going to create more problems down the road as other content firms line up demanding payment for similar licenses.

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  1. identicon
    Mike C., 6 Apr 2007 @ 6:14pm

    Odd thought - are they raising the bar?

    I have no idea where this thought came from, but maybe this is all a misguided attempt by Google to raise the entry bar for other news aggregators. Now that they've paid up, the news sites can go to any OTHER new aggregator and demand the same fees. Those that can't pay up are out of the biz leaving Google in the lead.

    Probably just another wack-job consipiracy theory, but I like trying to imagine all possible reasons for an unexplainably stupid action... :-)

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