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
    umopapisdn, 6 Apr 2007 @ 12:17pm

    greed

    The simple fact of the matter is, the world is confused and blinded by the greed of the media companies involved. They believe the propaganda without researching the reality. If Google displayed 100% of the articles on its own news site, then certainly they should pay a license. However, they don't do this. They show a snippet of the new article and then link to the original source. As a result, although Google News gets traffic by having this information, the originating news websites also get traffic. And, the traffic that the originating news sources get are FROM the traffic that Google acquires.

    In other words, Google is giving the news sites free traffic. Furthermore, the snippets they show fall under the "fair use" clause (at least in U.S. law.) This law was meant to allow users to quote minimal amounts of an original work as long as the original author is giving credit. In addition to giving credit, Google is also providing a direct link.

    Imagine this. A book store sells books. It certainly makes sense that if the book store sells a book in its entirety, a portion of the money should go to the distributor/publisher/author of the book. However, do book stores also need to pay a license fee due to the fact that plenty of people also read portions of the book in the store when deciding to buy? If the store also sells coffee, should a portion of these profits also be shared with the distributors/publishers/authors? After all, nobody goes to a book store to specifically drink coffee, they are there for the books. So, clearly the books should get credit for the coffee that is sold.

    In reality, the opposite is true. Book authors/distributors/publishers are HAPPY to get their books into as many book stores as possible. This results in exposure... which results in sales... which results in money. Likewise, the media should be HAPPY to get their news articles into as many news aggregators (such as Google News) as possible. This results in exposure... which results in visits to the original articles... which results in (advertising) money.

    In fact, I found this news article via Google News which led me to this site. If it weren't for Google News, I probably would never bother visiting this site as often as I find myself returning through Google News referrals.

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