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Reporter Says Newspapers Should File Class Action Suit Against Google

from the how-badly-can-you-misunderstand? dept

It really is stunning how badly newspaper people seem to misunderstand what's going on with Google. In response to the bizarre begging for Google to support poor journalists, a Florida movie critic is asking why the newspapers haven't teamed up to file a class action lawsuit against Google. Here's one good reason: it would get laughed out of court pretty damn fast. There seems to be tremendous confusion (and downright ignorance) about what Google does. The guy starts out by claiming Google is "taking news content and providing it for free without paying for it," which is flat out false. Google isn't taking news and it isn't providing it for free. It's driving more traffic to the news that newspapers already provide for free. Google giving them traffic benefits those newspaper sites by giving them more traffic to monetize. To claim that somehow this takes away from those sites isn't just incorrect, it's strategically backwards. To then go on to claim that it's somehow illegal to provide more traffic to sites that were put online for free is so ridiculous that Google should simply stop indexing the guy's newspaper on principle and see how they like getting less traffic.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

    Anonymous Poster, May 31st, 2007 @ 4:02pm

    I used to think that just the politicians and the lawyers were the massive idiots in this country. I see their stupidity is contagious, and has spread to the journalists.


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    Nick (profile), May 31st, 2007 @ 4:46pm

    Do brick-and-mortar business get their property stolen of the backs of car makers and roads used to get customers to the business? If the business does not have good security, maybe. But without the roads, the customers could not reach the business. The roads and the cars *help drive traffic* to the brick-and-mortar business. When was the last time a robbed bank tried to sue automakers (in the getaway car) and road infrastructure providers (what the the car drove on)?


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    Sos, May 31st, 2007 @ 5:15pm

    Do you think he missed the large 'Ads by Google' panel in the PoynterOnline sidebar?


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    ScaredOfTheMan, May 31st, 2007 @ 5:44pm

    I don't get it...

    Why doesn't google just once pull a newspaper site from its index and make an example out of them. Let all these whinners understand in terms of lost page hits and ad revenue why google is good for them.

    I baffles me, you have a whole industry around how to make google's index like you more (SEO), and yet these dinosaurs want google's index to like them less or even leave them out all together. So why not give them their wish?


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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2007 @ 5:44pm




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    Ryan, May 31st, 2007 @ 5:53pm

    less traffic.

    Do you think they'd notice?

    If they don't understand search engines, I doubt they understand how to use analytics programs.


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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2007 @ 6:16pm

    I agree, I'd start pulling paper from the index that complained and see how they liked it (didn't they do more or less that with the Belgians?). Nor would I reinstate them until I got a public retraction as evident as the initial criticism (in other word if it was a page one, or a page two story, no short blurb of a retraction on page 37). We'd see how fast their tunes would change if and when they realized not being Googled was likely costing them money.


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    Mark, May 31st, 2007 @ 6:21pm

    Re: Suing the City for the road

    There is difference here. The City doen't make a profit per se from the road infrastructure. It could be argued that Google makes a direct profit by luring users to their aggrigated news page in hopes of said users clicking on a sponsored link once a few days.


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    Mark, May 31st, 2007 @ 6:25pm

    If you think about it

    I don't think it's the actual web engineers that work for the media companies that make the decision about robots.txt. I very much doubt that these guys have the pull to allow/deny ~25% of traffic to news sites.

    It's the suits using google to their advantage until some random day or event that pisses them off and they try to think of a way to make a buck off of a company with a $500 stock price.

    How many of the 4500+ news sources that Google indexes really want to be pulled?


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    analogous, May 31st, 2007 @ 6:26pm

    Re: Re: Suing the City for the road

    Who gets the revenue for billboard signs hung along the side of the road?


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    Curtis, May 31st, 2007 @ 6:38pm

    if you pat attention to what is going on this country right now (and for a while) you will find that people who think they have power or political gain are getting utterly stupid. have you seen the movie "Idiocracy" that is where we are headed if those people stay in political fields with or without power.


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    Chris, May 31st, 2007 @ 6:42pm

    @Mark: But Google doesn't profit at all from providing their news page directly. They don't run ads against their news home page or news searches. All Google does is make it easier for people to find news sources they didn't know they wanted.

    If anything, the newspapers are angry that Google allows readers to bypass their front pages. But if they really believe that, then they should stop publishing RSS feeds and links to content in email newsletter updates too.

    Maybe the newspaper industry should just work harder to not become the next buggy-whip factory.

    Should they even refer to themselves as newspapers anymore?


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    Jack, May 31st, 2007 @ 6:46pm

    Why not sue Drudge?

    So does Google News get appreciably more hits than The Drudge Report? Or are they both roughly on the same order of magnitude? Drudge has been ripping-off all these other "journalists" (to use the same logic) for a lot longer than Google.


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    Jeff, May 31st, 2007 @ 6:48pm

    On the back page of my local paper they have a full page ad for the ad sales department on how the internet is a good thing for the newspaper business. They note how many millions of people read the on- and offline articles and say how great they are on how they get traffic between the two. If they understand it so well wouldn't they embrace a tool to drive traffic to their site.


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    Vincent Clement (profile), May 31st, 2007 @ 9:31pm

    The problem with journalists these days is that are unable to perform simple fact-checking.

    f any of these detractors bothered to visit the Google News portal, they will notice that Google copies the headline, a one or two sentence snippet and maybe an image. There are no ads on Google News, so Google makes no money directly from this page. Clicking on a link takes you directly to the article.

    But why let the facts get in your way when your solution is to sue a company only because it is successful.


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    Vincent Clement (profile), May 31st, 2007 @ 9:38pm


    Journalists gather and review background information, conduct thorough fact-checks and know how to present various sides of an argument or issues. These fake 'journalists' who argue that Google should be doing more for journalism and democracy or that newspapers should sue Google are nothing but hacks looking for some attention.

    Last time I looked, when you search in Google News it presents you with a list of links to articles all over the world. The user decides which links to click on. Sounds democratic to me. Sending more traffic to a newspaper web site sounds like helping journalism to me.


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    GCA, May 31st, 2007 @ 11:13pm

    Journalists Shoud Sue Google?

    Agreed. A moronic concept put forth by the clueless. Journalists can't get it through their heads that ever increasing numbers of people who care about the news are tired of their superior attitude and propagandizing. Newspapers are going broke because potential readers are making their disgust known by cancelling subscriptions, as I did to the San Francisco Chronicle 3 years ago. I am heartened to see them cut 100 editorial and writing jobs. I now get almost all of my news from the internet and most of what I read isn't the product of any newspaper or wire service.


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    DV Henkel-Wallace, Jun 1st, 2007 @ 5:47am

    Three points

    #1 the reporters and especially the columnists don't have much, if anything, to do with actually running nespapers so it doesn't matter -- the people who run the paper know what's going on (except perhaps in Belgium or at AFP). Jeff's comment is further evidence this.

    #2 to be fair, GN and the like cause you to go just to the page you want -- so you won't have as much chance of passing anything else on the site....unless, say, that content were interesting too on it's own. Hey, there's an idea!

    #3 Maybe this gives you an idea how well-formed the ideas of the other stuff most newspapers write is!


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    Bubba, Jun 1st, 2007 @ 7:33am

    "If they don't understand search engines, I doubt they understand how to use analytics programs."

    Oh believe me, newspapers care a great deal about their volume, because they derive their income from ads...kind of like how Google does. So if their readership drops, their ad revenue drops, they feel it. If I'm Google, I happily comply with their C&D letters, and watch them come back begging.


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    fOx, Jun 1st, 2007 @ 1:23pm


    You say that a lawsuit would get laughed out of court, but this is exactly what happened in Belgium and Google was ordered to pull down its entire News feed. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/19/technology/19google.html?ei=5088&en=f539cf5399003e4f&ex=13 16318400&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

    The company has since appealed and we will see where it goes after further review. But, saying that this would get laughed out of court is irresponsible. In fact, it would probably go on for years.


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    Cixelsid, Jun 1st, 2007 @ 1:37pm

    Yep. And then

    RIght after Google stops indexing newssites he'll prob. start clamouring that newspapers teem up and sue Google because they're not at the top of every search result. Seeing as how apparently Google has a monopoly on the internet.


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    Cixelsid, Jun 1st, 2007 @ 1:42pm

    And then

    It'll end with Google paying off newssites to stop bothering them like what they've done with EMI.

    Interesting how we've created in content creators the internet equivalent of the MOB and traded corporate lawyers for henchmen.


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    Cixelsid, Jun 1st, 2007 @ 1:43pm


    I mean henchmen for corporate lawyers.

    Padron me. Easy to confuse the two.


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    Phil, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 3:54pm


    Once again gigantic media conglomerates kick themselves in the nuts.


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