Google Removes News Snippets From Complaining Publications In Germany; Publications Claim It's 'Blackmail'
from the let's-see-how-that-goes dept
While German regulators rejected this request from the news publication industry group VG Media, Google has now decided to remove all news snippets from VG Media publications. It will still display results from those publications, but only in pure link/title format. Google claims it's doing this to "remove [the] legal risks" from ongoing legal action from VG Media, but it seems equally likely that this will also decrease the traffic to those publishers' websites.
As we've discussed in the past, years back under similar circumstances in Belgium, Google simply removed the complaining publications from its index, only to have those publications freak out and beg to be let back in, exposing the hypocrisy of those publishers, insisting that what Google was doing was somehow unfair.
Indeed, almost immediately, VG Media shot back that this is a form of "blackmail." According to David Meyer at GigaOm:
"Google is discriminating in that they do not show snippets and thumbnails for publishers that made a claim, but they still show snippets and thumbnails from other publishers," he said. "They're trying to [apply] economic pressure."So... showing the snippets without payment is unfair and infringing. And, not showing the snippets is unfair and blackmail. Someone want to explain how any of this makes any sense other than that it's just petty corporate jealousy that Google has made a lot of money and those publishers want some of it for nothing?
VG Media's spokesperson seems to honestly think that there's some sort of moral requirement for Google to both pay for and show snippets. Again from Meyer:
The spokesman said VG Media was still in talks with the regulator about the case, and would add a complaint about this latest move. But how does this move harm consumers? I asked him. “Because they won’t have quality content in the future” if Google doesn’t pay for the snippets it uses, he claimed.It's difficult to see how this is anything other than "We failed to develop our own business model, so the company that did ought to just give us money."
But surely Google actually helps publishers by sending traffic their way — do the publishers really believe that anyone sees a sentence-or-two-long snippet in Google News and then goes “Eh, that’s enough, I don’t need to click through”?