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The Media Google Patents News

Google Looks To Convert Print Pubs Into E-Articles 42

Posted by timothy
from the one-at-a-time dept.
bizwriter writes "A patent application by Google (GOOG), filed in August 2008 and made public last week, shows that the company is trying to automate the process of splitting printed magazines and newspapers into individual articles that it could then deliver separately. Although this could allow Google to convert stacks of periodicals into electronic archives, it potentially sends the company headlong into conflict with a famous Supreme Court ruling on media law."
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Google Looks To Convert Print Pubs Into E-Articles

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:25PM (#31276152)

    Most magazines are glad to sell their content from back issues for money. So, if Google gets permission from the publisher, and then charges for back magazine items in the same way they have a paid-for newspaper archive search... is that really headed for the Supreme Court?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by perlchild (582235)

      Most magazines wouldn't be ok with an automated process because it wouldn't let them charge extra for some issues.

      I'm not saying google intends to do this, but I doubt sports illustrated would let their swimsuit issue go for the same price as the rest.

      • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:29PM (#31276226) Journal

        I'm not saying google intends to do this, but I doubt sports illustrated would let their swimsuit issue go for the same price as the rest.

        Yeah, but you don't really read the swimsuit edition for "the articles."

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by perlchild (582235)

          I was just using an example that really stood out. Most magazines have one issue a year that really sells, because of just one article that outdoes their competitors. The SI example is recurrent every year, most other magazines aren't so regular.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by LostCluster (625375) *

            SI's Swimsuit Issue is not a run-of-the-mill issue of the magazine... and sometimes when sports issues warrant they'll even publish a normal SI on the same day. But, like special issues of Time and Consumer Reports... those don't have to even go to subscribers if they don't want them to. Easy to exclude such things, or include them if Google really wants them, in the eventual contract.

        • by edumacator (910819) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @08:50PM (#31280180)

          No kidding...those pictures are ... degrading to women. If it wasn't for the articles, I wouldn't pick up Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Are you one of those perverts that just buys it for the pictures. You and your ilk disgust me.

          .
          .

          Whew...that was close. She's gone now, but my wife was standing over my shoulder. Those girls are hot!

      • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:37PM (#31276352)

        Most magazines wouldn't be ok with an automated process because it wouldn't let them charge extra for some issues.

        An automated conversion process has no effect on what can be charged for individual portions of the results, it just streamlines the process of getting material into a form where it can be distributed online, separated by (and, potentially, priced differently by) article, which is even more specific than particular issue.

        Now, certainly, Google would probably like to get everything from everyone and pay and charge nothing for it, making money by serving targetted ads alongside the content. But that's not the only could do with the technology, and patenting the technology (even if one assumes that they intend to deploy it at all) doesn't tell you anything about how they plan to deploy it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by LostCluster (625375) *

        Did you read my original post? Google has a paywall for old newspaper content, they could easily erect one for old magazine content if needed.

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        If the magazines want variable pricing, then I see no reason they couldn't negotiate that with Google.

      • Most magazines wouldn't be ok with an automated process because it wouldn't let them charge extra for some issues.

        I'm not saying google intends to do this, but I doubt sports illustrated would let their swimsuit issue go for the same price as the rest.

        Why would an automated process necessitate uniform pricing for everything? They could easily set it up so that if the OCR reads "Swimsuit Issue" on the cover, the "articles" are tagged differently and a different price is charged.

        • by perlchild (582235)

          As I've said, the swimsuit issue is a rarity.

          In fact, the behaviour of most media executives is that they want to set the price retroactively, based on popularity.

    • by belmolis (702863)

      As the article says, the problem is not so much with the publishers as with the copyrights of the authors.

  • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:26PM (#31276180) Journal
    The patent application merely shows they know how to do such a thing. It does not mean that they plan to do so. Google has many unimplemented patents.
    Maybe they will, and maybe they won't. But anyone who does will have to factor Google's patent application into their economic reckoning.
    • by Aeros (668253)
      No doubt. It makes me laugh at how people jump to conclusions on here so quickly. "The sky is falling"!!! It's nice they have this cool feature but after the book lawsuit they have against them I am sure they are going to tread into this area (if they decide to) a little more carefully.
  • it potentially sends the company headlong into conflict with a famous Supreme Court ruling on media law."

    Can someone link please? I'm not a legal scholar. Which law, and how did they rule?

    • Re:Which ruling? (Score:5, Informative)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:39PM (#31276382) Journal
      Seriously, folks, it's in the article:

      There’s just one legal problem: New York Times Co. , et. al. v. Jonathan Tasini et. al. [cornell.edu] Usually called the Tasini case, freelance writers sued the New York Times and other print publications for licensing individual articles to database companies without permission from the writers, who retained the copyright on the articles. One of the main turning points was that the publishers had explicit permission only to include the articles in the print publication. However, copyright law did not allow the publishers to break their publications up and make the articles accessible to readers out of the original context.

      Obligatory Wikipedia link [wikipedia.org].

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by FlyingBishop (1293238)

        Wait, what's this article thing you're talking about? I thought this was Slashdot.

      • by mcgrew (92797)

        Thank you. Now, will someone please mod the parent "informative" and my GP comment "overrated?" Thanking the mods in advance.

    • From the article:

      New York Times Co. , et. al. v. Jonathan Tasini et. al. [cornell.edu] Usually called the Tasini case, freelance writers sued the New York Times and other print publications for licensing individual articles to database companies without permission from the writers, who retained the copyright on the articles. One of the main turning points was that the publishers had explicit permission only to include the articles in the print publication. However, copyright law did not allow the publishers to break their publications up and make the articles accessible to readers out of the original context.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In the UK, Australia and NZ, "pubs" are what americans call bars.

    • We have pubs in Canada too. We also have bars. And clubs

      They are different though. A pub is one of those places you go down to drink and have a good time with your friends. You usually end up buying a big platter of Appetizers, sitting chatting and getting drunk together.

      A club is the opposite of a pub, in that you expect to do No sitting whatsoever. You pay a ridiculously high cover charge, have to be dressed nice, and pretty much go there to dance while drinking. There will at most be 5 tables in seperate

  • by icebike (68054) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:46PM (#31276492)

    Both TFA and the summary assume leap to the conclusion that GOOGLE would run afoul of a law relating to current publications without even hinting at the utterly vast archives of newspapers molding in public libraries or on microfilm that can't be accessed conveniently if at all.

    Many worry about the loss of historical content, so much so that due to so much of our modern media being released only in digital form. [theregister.co.uk]

    Yet there is a huge wealth of old newspapers, scientific journals, and popular press magazines that could be salvaged with this technology.

    Its odd, that when envisioning futuristic civilizations we almost always expect all of their literary history being contained in computers accessible from everywhere. Yet when someone develops the tools to do just that there is a huge outcry from those that posture as defenders of IP rights.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Both TFA and the summary assume leap to the conclusion that GOOGLE would run afoul of a law relating to current publications without even hinting at the utterly vast archives of newspapers molding in public libraries or on microfilm that can't be accessed conveniently if at all.

      That was pretty much exactly what I was going to say. There's a huge leap to nefarious conclusions here - this kind of technology would be awesome for getting old magazines and newspapers a huge amount of which are out of copyright

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Its odd, that when envisioning futuristic civilizations we almost always expect all of their literary history being contained in computers accessible from everywhere. Yet when someone develops the tools to do just that there is a huge outcry from those that posture as defenders of IP rights.

      There is an outcry because current IP rights don't allow for content to be "salvaged with this technology"
      The solution is to go to Congress and have the law changed, not to run roughshod over the rights of others and then present a fait accompli.
      I know it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission, but that isn't how our legal system works.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Wouldn't it be prudent to actually wait till there was an actual violation of someone's IP rights before starting with the crocodile tears?

  • by dave562 (969951) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:16PM (#31276928) Journal

    The summary makes it sound like Google is trying to do yet another end run around actually paying publishers to access their content. Every single major publisher out there already has their article content in an advertisement free format. They have templates that they copy the content (and advertisements) into when it comes time to print. If Google wants the content, they can pay the publishers for it. They don't need to reverse engineer the final printing. They need to stop being cheap and pay content creators.

  • Complex printed media material, such as a newspaper, often involve columns of body text, headlines, graphic images, multiple font sizes, comprising multiple articles and logical elements in close proximity to each other, on a single page. Attempts to utilize optical character recognition in such situations are typically inadequate resulting in a wide range of multiple errors, including, for example, the inability to properly associate text from multiple columns as being from the same article, mis-associatin
    • by davecb (6526) *

      Yup: long since done by Exegenix, who even did the magazine analysis, and now available as a web service from Tata Consulting in India.

      ... an intelligent document conversion solution that helps you to quickly and easily convert Word, PostScript or PDF files into XML. Exegenix® employs human-like intelligence to interpret each page enabling automatic and accurate conversion of structures within the document, with no scripting required.

      One of my customers used the for-pay service to convert a massive government budget to text the day it was relased.

      --dave

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