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Online Content Cannot Remain Free 345

gamer4Life writes "Publishers from Europe are complaining that Internet search engines are making money off their copyright-protected material. 'This is unlikely to be sustainable for publishers in the longer term.', says Francisco Pinto Balsemao, head of the European Publishers Council. These comments are despite the fact that Google does not place ads on their news service. 'Search engines do not reproduce content. They help users find content by pointing to where it exists on the Web.', says Google spokesman, Steve Langdon. This comes after a French news service sued Google for at least $17.5 million."
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Online Content Cannot Remain Free

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  • Profit Elsewhere (Score:5, Insightful)

    by biocute ( 936687 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:03PM (#14197987) Homepage
    I don't think the European Publishers Council is only referring to Google News, but the whole idea of people start relying on search engines to get their news feed. And sometimes, you will be able to find a news that is free on one site, and by subscription on another (eg NYTimes vs CNN).

    And what about cached news articles that could have already been removed from the news site and turned into a pay-per-view article?

    I guess there is only so much money to go around in the economy, if Google is making a huge profit, someone else is getting less.

    These comments are despite the fact that Google does not place ads on their news service

    But when I searched for "DeLay", there are few "news" links at the very top of the result page, and a sponsored link by www.nytimes.com.
    • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <{akaimbatman} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:06PM (#14198009) Homepage Journal
      And sometimes, you will be able to find a news that is free on one site, and by subscription on another (eg NYTimes vs CNN).

      Which is how Capitalism is supposed to work. I realize that many companies are just looking after their own interests, but they probably don't even realize that they're actually being anti-competitive and that "fair-use" is intended to cover exactly this type of situation.
      • by IAmTheDave ( 746256 ) <basenamedave-sd@ ... o.com minus poet> on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:43PM (#14198268) Homepage Journal
        Agreed. Also, arguing that content that was once free is now pay-per-view is (excuse me) stupid, because once information is free it tends to remain free. Arguing that information already disseminated may now be locked up is half the reason that Secrecy News [fas.org] and the FAS [fas.org] exist. (It's a comparison.)

        I understand (to a degree) copyright, but a redaction in previously public information by any party - government or private - is hardly ever good.
      • by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <`john.oyler' `at' `comcast.net'> on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @08:05PM (#14198447) Journal
        No, this is a astro-turfed meme. Maybe the parent poster isn't a shill himself, but when people who don't even know what copyright is, are standing around the coffee machine at work, and the subject comes up about how google is stealing from people who write books, something fishy is going on.

        Google sends business to these retards, if anything. Those that can't make that simple connection need to do us all a favor, and stop breathing.
        • Re:Profit Elsewhere (Score:5, Interesting)

          by letxa2000 ( 215841 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @10:29PM (#14199192)
          Google sends business to these retards, if anything. Those that can't make that simple connection need to do us all a favor, and stop breathing.

          No kidding. I'm a published author and I'm currently trying to figure out if my publisher is going to get my book listed with Google or if I have to do it myself. One way or another I definitely want my book listed. I can't imagine why an author wouldn't want the contents of his or her book to be searchable on Google.

          • Re:Profit Elsewhere (Score:3, Interesting)

            by bentcd ( 690786 )
            As I understand it, it's the publishers that are complaining rather than the authors. What the publishers are seeing, I suppose, is that in the future, Google will do their job for them. As electronic distribution increases in popularity among your readers, traditional paper publishers will fade into obscurity and modern electronic publishers (e.g., Google) will take over the market.
            Of course, it's probably all the same for the /authors/ who is publishing their material, so long as they're doing a good job
        • no argument... (Score:5, Informative)

          by alizard ( 107678 ) <alizard.ecis@com> on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @11:06PM (#14199356) Homepage
          I'm a published author myself... Linux how-to articles at this point... try searching on:
          alizard Linux

          If I write a book, I very definitely want my stuff online and searchable.

          If my book is any good, the more people who see it, the more are going to buy it. Making the book good is my problem, and to a smaller extent, that of my editors. Make the book invisible and nobody will buy it.

          Isn't making money off IP content what publishing is supposed to be about? Not making content invisible or putting it on sale after locking it into a digital toilet.

          BTW, the only real success I know with respect to digital-age publishing is Baen Books [baen.com].

          They make their backlist free and downloadable with no DRM and no brain-dead e-reader software, open in your word processsor or browser. They do the same with their current books, only you have to pay for those.

          The first hit is always free is a time honored and sound marketing principle. Once you're read the first several books in a series, the buying decision on the next few is a very easy one to make, especially since the content doesn't have DRM-crapware on it that makes it harder to read where I feel like reading it. They're also cheaper since they don't have to pay print costs, just bandwidth. This isn't hypothetical, I've already bought several of their books and plan on buying 2 or 3 more as soon as I get my next article check.

          The French publishers simply want government protection for an industrial-age business model, just like the crapheads at the *AA member labels and studios do... fuck 'em.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:07PM (#14198021)
      Google news gives you a little snippet of the article, then a link to the page it came from -- just like their search does. So, just like search, you click on the link and go to the copyright owner's page -- complete with revenue generating ads.

      If the copyright owner doesn't like this he should block Google from indexing his pages and watch what happens.
      • Yup, they could even block all robots but googlebot (via robots.txt) and then use the appropriate googlebot no-cache header, or just block all the 'bots.
    • So in other words it benefits the consumers of news. This isn't bad for people, it's only bad for those who refuse to change their business model. How does it cost more to make subscription-only archived articles available to the public? It's not like storage costs go up, and any decent news site isn't going to see a huge jump in bandwidth. They'd take a hit in revenue, yes, but that's only if they don't look into what other companys (for example, Google itself) do. True, I don't want endless popup advertis
    • by pla ( 258480 )
      And sometimes, you will be able to find a news that is free on one site, and by subscription on another (eg NYTimes vs CNN).

      And sometimes, I can make my own bread instead of paying SunBeam for the pasty white styrofoam they sell under that name.

      I guess there is only so much money to go around in the economy

      You might think that, wouldn't you? But no. Spend all you want, the governments will print more. Of course, the money you have now becomes less valuable as a result, but if you think we don't
      • by sco08y ( 615665 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @08:59PM (#14198782)
        GP: I guess there is only so much money to go around in the economy

        P: You might think that, wouldn't you? But no. Spend all you want, the governments will print more. Of course, the money you have now becomes less valuable as a result, but if you think we don't have inflation by design

        First: the notion that there is "only so much money." It is true that there is are only so many nominal dollars/yen/etc. However, you can make money right in your own home! Just get a piece of paper and write "IOU $5" and give it to a friend. Congratulations. You have just increased the total amount of money in the world by $5.

        That is, assuming you actually intend to pay your friend back *and* your friend trusts you to do so.

        Now, governments *do* need to print money. Not to cause inflation, but because without enough cash people can't do business. Your IOU only works as well as people trust you to pay it back, the five dollar IOU from the federal government is viewed as considerably more reliable.

        In the case of hyperinflation you see that a government is printing tons of money and the currency is becoming devalued and make the post hoc error that printing money causes the devaluing of the currency. But what's really happening is that people are losing faith that the government is good on its debts. In wartime Germany, was it the printing of money that made people lose faith in the mark, or was it the fact that they were losing the war?

        When you understand that markets are a natural means of communicating information about scarcity of resources and talent you see why the idea that someone can "design" something like inflation is false. Maybe they can significantly influence it or maybe the whole regulating thing is a farce and politicians just take credit for upswings and blame others for downswings. At any rate, the sum value of everything in the world is most directly influenced by creativity and ingenuity, not accounting tricks.
    • Re:Profit Elsewhere (Score:5, Informative)

      by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:33PM (#14198214)
      So then you are saying that if people can get their news free on the internet from one source independantly of another source, people won't go to the non-free source?

      Well, yes, why would we expect any differently? Here's the thing; it IS possible to make money on the internet. Banner advertising such as Google AdSense makes site owners a lot of money these days, as long as people can make money by putting stuff on websites they can continue to offer it for "free".

      So yes, as far as the success of things like Google AdSense is concerned, online content CAN remain free. A good example is Digg. They're making all their money off a SINGLE GOOGLE AD, and now they've got millions in venture capital to grow much faster. Or look at sites like Anandtech that produce a LOT of money managing their own ads, and still produce an enormous amount of original content (More than computer magazines, but they're free).
      • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @08:33PM (#14198615)
        No it's not a matter free versus not free though that matters. It's the principle of arbitrage. If I want to sell my 2000 year old gold ring for its true value and you want to buy a 2000 year old ring the chances we meet are close to nil. Instead I will have to sell my ring in a more liquid market that only values the gold not the age.
          Faced with this, Therefore I'm willing to pay a antiquties broker a commission for you to find me. Arbitraging in the stock market are people who look for things that are priced lower than they should be due to inadequate liquidity and buy them then find markets to sell them in. ( Often they do this with options so they don't even actually own the properties. )

        In either case arbitraging creates market liqudity which increases the sales value of an item closer to it's optimal value. The seller gets more and should be glad. The reverse can also be true when the arbitrager works for the buyer.

        Google is effectively creating a liquid market where none exists. It helps the seller because it connects them to the buyer (reader) of the news (and ads). And it helps the buyer avoid easily found but overpriced news. But in both cases google is adding value and extracting a commision (google ads).

        So yes they are adding value and thus entitled to make money. But the seller is not worse off unless they are in the class of sellers who make their money by being easily found but cost a bundle. (e.g. payday loan shop on the corner or the bank loan officer down town.)

        But it does seem like the news companies should be able to opt out if they want. Maybe someone should tell them about robots.txt
        but instead they are greedy and want a cut of the broker's slice. It's not unheard of: it's Not unlike asking your real estate to give you a cut of the commission on a house that is particularly desirable for an agent to list.

    • It's true that there's only so much money to go around. But it can go around any number of times, so there's no fixed "income pie" from which each company takes a slice.
    • Re:Profit Elsewhere (Score:4, Informative)

      by gamer4Life ( 803857 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @08:22PM (#14198558)
      These comments are despite the fact that Google does not place ads on their news service

      But when I searched for "DeLay", there are few "news" links at the very top of the result page, and a sponsored link by www.nytimes.com.

      Actually what you're doing most likely is search Google, the search engine.

      When you search Google News, you won't see a single ad. So therefore, that statement above is correct.

    • Re:Profit Elsewhere (Score:3, Informative)

      by GigsVT ( 208848 )
      I guess there is only so much money to go around in the economy, if Google is making a huge profit, someone else is getting less.

      Economics is not zero-sum. That's a myth made up by people that want to force socialism down everyone's throat.
    • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:14PM (#14198857) Homepage Journal
      I guess there is only so much money to go around in the economy, if Google is making a huge profit, someone else is getting less.

      That is a myth. The economy is not a zero sum game. Everytime you create something that someone else values, you have created new value.

      Google and other search engines are creating new value by offering services that would not otherwise exist. There is a value to online news stories from European publishers, but there is more value in the market when they are combined with the search engines to find them. The former does not lose money when the latter makes money.

      Of course, the publishers still need to stay current and remain flexible. Just because there is now more value in the market doesn't mean an individual publisher is guaranteed a piece of it.
    • by Julian Morrison ( 5575 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:15PM (#14198866)
      I guess there is only so much money to go around in the economy, if Google is making a huge profit, someone else is getting less.

      That's an economic mistake and an important one, because it leads to bad policy. I'll explain how it's mistaken.

      Value is the value of a thing to a person. Profit is the increase in value after a trade, versus before. So the seller profits by gaining money (wanted more) and losing product (wanted less). The buyer profits by losing money (wanted less) and gaining product (wanted more).

      Wealth is the ability to achive personal goals. If you have more money, that's useful to you, so it's wealth. If you get something you need more, lose something you need less, then you have more wealth. Therefore profit produces personal wealth for both parties.

      Some of the things you trade for, increase your efficiency. They let you achieve things you couldn't before. When other people's goals depend on your efficiency, your gain in wealth translates into a gain in societal wealth: everybody can achieve their goals a little easier. Therefore profit produces (on average) societal wealth for everyone.

      Inflation and deflation reflect the usefulness of money. The limit of inflation is useless money. Infinite paper, nothing to buy, therefore infinite prices. The limit of deflation is getting everything for free. They relate to societal wealth. Wealth drops, money stays the same: inflation. Wealth rises, money stays the same: deflation. Therefore, profit is deflationary.

      Given deflation, the same amount of money buys more. Therefore if anyone makes a profit, everyone makes a profit. This is the true virtue of the capitalist system, and it's the reason why Google's profits don't mean "someone else is getting less".
      • by NixLuver ( 693391 ) <stwhite@kc h e r e t i c . c om> on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @10:24PM (#14199172) Homepage Journal
        Looks wonderful on paper, doesn't it?

        The problem is that the philosophy you have expressed only inheres in a capitalism inhabited solely by those who act in rational self-interest. Rational means considering the ramifications of one's actions. Unfortunately, both producers and consumers in their various guises have proven to be terrible at this game. We live in a society where consumers are unreasonably swayed by marketing and the oft-championed 'excellence of product' that capitalism encourages is virtually unrecognizable. Frequently - and by frequently, I mean, say, 50% of the time or more, consumers purchase things, and feel that they have been taken advantage of. In many cases, they are right.

        I am constantly amazed at the fact that those who deplore social anarchy the most are often the biggest champions of financial anarchy - Capitalism. And just like social anarchy, it only lasts as long as it takes for one player to accumulate enough 'stuff' to influence others, and then we have a de facto government, or a de facto monopoly.

        • The problem with this objection, of course, is that *no* economic system works very well unless its participants are acting in accordance was some approximation of rational self-interest. There are some, such as socialism, which can do without self-interest on the part of the majority, in exchange for placing control over the economy in the hands of a few individuals with no real responsibilities toward their subjects. How, exactly, is such a system in any way an improvement over capitalism?

          All forms of dem
    • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @10:25PM (#14199175) Homepage
      I guess there is only so much money to go around in the economy,

      That's not how the economy works. Money doesn't vanish the first time someone spends it. It goes to someone else, who pays it to someone else, etc. Circulation is the real driving force.

      if Google is making a huge profit, someone else is getting less.

      It's not a zero-sum game. There's plenty of money for everyone so long as it keeps circulating. The oly way Google can get "someone else's" money is if they directly compete, and in that case it's no longer "their money", it's rightfully Google's.

  • What Is? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:04PM (#14197994) Homepage Journal

    'This is unlikely to be sustainable for publishers in the longer term.', says Francisco Pinto Balsemao, head of the European Publishers Council.

    The panicking and running around with hands in the air, shouting "the sky is falling"?

    I can begin to tell how many authors I've ripped off by reading their entire tomes on-line, snippet by snippet in Google search results.

    I haven't.

    On the contrary, like Langdon alludes, I hear or see something, pop a few words into Google to do a search, next thing you know my bookshelf, real oak(!), is jamb packed with books.

    What do they really want, poverty and security through obscurity?

    the new zork times book review shall not quote, nor say bad words about my book, in cold oatmeal or i shall sue

    • Re:What Is? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rolfwind ( 528248 )
      Many small publishers are probably scared that they will lose business and Google will become the prominent "publisher" for many smaller low circulation books.

      Especially in hobbyist niches, many authors can't hope to make a profit off their work, instead it's done for prestige or the love of the hobby. They lose money by paying the publisher to print their books and spend years selling it for a little above cost.

      Eventually cut these middlemen publishers out when authors recognize they can get away from the
      • Almost.... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by abb3w ( 696381 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @10:39PM (#14199235) Journal
        I wonder how this and the coming e-paper revolution would play out. Google could really become poised to become the biggest book publisher in the world, when after browsing the book online, for a fee with 75% going to the author, it can be downloaded to your 8.5"x11" e-paper you use to read all your stuff (effectively your library.)


        You would still want to allow for a cut for editors, for authors willing to accept the help. Many slush pile authors REALLY need to keep their day jobs, and even tentacled horrors that crawl from the deep sea of slush are much more paletable after baking under the harsh glare of a disciplined editor's gimlet eye. I have no doubt that many authors would find themselves with a larger piece of a much smaller pie without editorial assistance.

        Also, Print-on-demand grows ever more economical, approaching basic mass market publishing price. Imagine Google contracts with a POD publisher, and maybe also offers salaried positions to a couple talented-and-open-minded editors. Google Press makes the books on-line browsable. Editions are available as your suggested downloadable e-paper, but also paperback, trade (oversize) paperback, hardbound, or acid free leather. More costly materials, of course, mean higher cover (?) price, with a smaller percentage of sale price (but larger absolute amount) going to the author.

        Of course, editorial talent is almost as hard to find as authorial talent. Still, it has possibilities....

  • Oh no (Score:4, Funny)

    by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:05PM (#14197996) Homepage Journal
    I just made a list of things, and Slashdot will be making ad money from the list of other people's software being here:
    http://sf.net/ [sf.net]

    http://digg.com/ [digg.com]

    http://grisoft.com/ [grisoft.com]

    Someone sue Slashdot! Quickly now!
    • Re:Oh no (Score:3, Insightful)

      by booch ( 4157 )
      It's even worse than I thought!

      I own a small store, and a lot of people come in to browse and don't buy anything.

      The bus companies are making money off of people who come into my store!
  • by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) <shadow...wrought@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:05PM (#14198000) Homepage Journal
    Any industry tied to a technology lends itself to obsolecence. Why should printing be different?
    • Robots.txt (Score:5, Insightful)

      by queenb**ch ( 446380 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:11PM (#14198052) Homepage Journal
      If they don't want to be spidered, let them turn on the robots.txt. Sheesh! Since they can control what Google has for them in their search results, I fail to see how Google is responsible for that.

      Besides, if you're selling content, don't you want people to know you have it? How are they supposed to know that they can buy it otherwise?

      Just how big a DUH! does this get?

      2 cents,

      Queen B
    • .

      This is the world's smallest violin, playing the world's saddest song, just for you.

      Seriously, the publishers (and anyone else who is too stupid to adapt and instead tries to prop up their obsolete business model) can fuck off and die, and it won't matter in the slightest. The world, and the Internet, will carry on without them, and probably be better for it!
      • My first instinct is to agree with this - but then I get thinking longer term... I know there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. For years I've been reading online news rather than buying a newspaper. I depend on the Internet for a lot of things, and the only money I pay directly for it is my monthly DSL/ISP fee. They don't give a kickback to any publishers!

        Assuming that all the dumb publishers fuck off and die, how will the reports get paid? Will advertising really magically pay for everything? I t
        • Assuming that all the dumb publishers fuck off and die, how will the reports get paid? Will advertising really magically pay for everything?

          How do you think the reporters get paid today? Does that 30p for your paper really magically pay for everything, or could it just possibly be the case that the adverts that cover up to 50% of every page inside a printed paper are actually the only thing making it profitable?

          When print newspapers die, all that advertising money will start going to the online services t
        • It doesn't matter. If a thing has value, somebody will produce it. The method of production is irrelevant, except that the most efficient one is best. If traditional publishers can't survive, well, then it's just an indication that they're no longer the most efficient method of production!
        • I'm not like you. I didn't read much news at all I started on the net in 95. (I'm 40) Now I still don't buy the paper (wife gets Sundays for ads) but I see a lot of ads with the online news that I use Google to find, then I go to the individual sites. They get to show me ads, get a few cents each time.

          As for books, I have lots of ebooks, and I seldom read them. They are great for greping to find specific stuff, mainly tech manuals but little else for my purposes. But I am just like most serious readers
    • The issue isn't about printing becoming obsolete but writing as a profession. At first it was just E-Books or digitized material that was at risk but now they are starting to scan in printed books and making them availible. How many professional writers will there be if they can no longer sell their work? The cost of printing and distributing written material in some ways has protected the profession but digitized material can be reproduced at little or no cost so it can spread through the internet like a v
      • Well, sucks to be a writer then!

        There's absolutely no reason to be worried about the "loss for humanity" of having no professional writers. You know why? Because either
        1. somebody will see value in their work, and compensate them for it so that they can keep writing more, or
        2. their work had no value anyway, so it's no loss.

        The only issue is how the mechanism of the compensation will work, and, as with so many other things (including software), traditional publishing is merely one possible model. Others inc

      • ...now they are starting to scan in printed books and making them availible.

        They're making them searchable, not "available". One can't just grab whole books off of the system. I believe this news article is about Google News (judging from other comments), not Google Print, though.

        I still don't buy the argument of Google Print killing the industry on books though. It just doesn't seem based in logic.

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:09PM (#14198040) Homepage

    Google to European publishers: "OK, if you guys don't want your content indexed, we won't index it. And we'll remove it from our database while we're at it."

    European publishers, a month later: "Why have visits to our sites dropped by 80% since Google stopped stealing uor content?!"

    • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:26PM (#14198165)
      They probably think they can gather enough traffic just on their names and from advertising in other media (television, radio, other print media).

      But really, they'd rather control what stories their readers see and protect against their opinions being listed against opinions of competing publications. They feel they aggregate stories just fine and Google is undermining their wor and discouraging readers from being brand-aware.

      When was the last time you visited a site's article on Google News and wanted to visit the home page of the site? A site's front-page cover story means nothing.

      Perhaps they recognize that search engine results are effectively free targeted advertising for them. They just see the loss of control over what is and isn't news, and with that a loss of identity in the on-line news business.
    • If you want visitors/customers you have to pay off Google. If you don't pay Google 99.9% of your profits, someone else will, and you will get no visitors.

      Welcome to a search engine driven internet. If it wasn't Google, it would be Microsoft

      Good news is, this applies to your competitors too, so the long term end result is, people get sick of Google and just give everything away for free, because all profits would have to goto Google anyway. Middlemen will all cease to exist, and you will just order directly
  • by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <[valuation] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:09PM (#14198041)
    "Publishers from Europe are complaining that Internet search engines are making money off their copyright-protected material. 'This is unlikely to be sustainable for publishers in the longer term.', says Francisco Pinto Balsemao, head of the European Publishers Council."

    What a whiny little biatch. *Every* news outlet with an online presence has one of two choices:

    1. Do not make your content openly accessible through the HTTP protocol and charge a fee.
    2. Use robots.txt, which Google honours.

    Until one of those two actions are taken, Francisco, you have FREELY VOLUNTEERED to offer your content to news aggregators and anyone with a web browser. This is a choice you can make *right now*, instead of complaining like a baby.
    • by houghi ( 78078 )
      This is the same excuse that spammers use: If you don't want it, you can unsubscribe. In this case with adding a robot.txt

      Why not a robot.txt that tells whay you DO want to be indexed. No robot.txt, no addition to any searchengine.
      • The difference?

        Robots.txt works more often than an "unsubscribe" link. Assuming the spam even has one. Oh, and google is a legitimate company.
      • This is the same excuse that spammers use: If you don't want it, you can unsubscribe.

        If only that worked for spammers. If you could unsubscribe (one file to block all spammers like robots.txt would be nice) from them, they wouldn't be spammers.
  • Google News (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Michalson ( 638911 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:11PM (#14198050)
    These comments are despite the fact that Google does not place ads on their news service

    That's because the news service is "beta" forever. In fact citing Google News is actually a direct prove of the outside assertion - Google has kept it beta for years (and isn't like to ever make it a "real" service) simply because there is no true model they could legally use. They are screen scraping other people's content and the second they let it be legally defined as anything but an academic exercise (by removing the beta mark or sticking ads on it) they will get hit with a million lawsuits and Google won't have a legal leg to stand on.

    Google News, along with most other Google "services", are special cases. Unlike companies that are trying to make money from their services, Google's main goal is to use them to mine personal information from millions of visitors. So it doesn't matter if their software is beta forever, as long as they can have a system that reads your personal email and indexes all keywords found against the GUID that tracks you across every Google site, they will be happy because they can sell expensive targeted advertising on the main Google search and anywhere else that won't get them into legal trouble.
    • I call bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Howzer ( 580315 ) * <grabshot@h[ ]ail.com ['otm' in gap]> on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:36PM (#14198226) Homepage Journal
      Assertion 1: "They are screen scraping other people's content"
      Assertion 2: "the second they let it be legally defined...a million lawsuits...Google won't have a legal leg to stand on"

      Both assertions are, IMO, completely untrue. It is not illegal, and I don't think it's ever been illegal in any jurisdiction, to stand on a street corner and say "Hey! There's a guy selling icecream over there!" Unless you cause a riot, or yell too loud, or block the footpath.

      Google News doesn't "screen scrape" any content. They list headlines from news sites. "Hey! There's a guy telling a story over there!" Not illegal. Never will be illegal.

      To your second point. There are companies out there, right now, even as we type, called clipping services. They literally cut whole articles out of newspapers, magazines, journals, and compile folders of them according to criteria set by the people who pay them money.

      According to you, they "don't have a legal leg to stand on" and yet they are amazingly unsued, making revenue from other people's content. If Google removed the "beta" sign tomorrow, they would still be doing far less than a standard, real-world clipping service.

      It's also not illegal to watch someone buy a sports magazine at a newsstand and say "Excuse me sir. Do you mind if I ask you a question? I notice you are into sports. Would you like to buy this fine *related product here*?" Again, if you do this wrong you could be arrested for bugging people, but the act of making a recommendation based on observed public behaviour is not illegal.

      "You want the Model A? Well, ma'am, I couldn't help noticing you have two kids in the store with you today. The Model B is specifically designed for families with young children." Not illegal. Never will be illegal.

      But, of course, IANAL, and I am simply operating in the plain old world of "logic", not the rarified atmosphere of "the law". Now, those two environments usually intersect, but of course we all know of times when they haven't.
      • Good post. The real issue is that these news outlets could very easily say in their robots.txt that they don't want Google to look at their site. They don't do that because most people click the link anyways and they would loose many of their visitors if they did. So, basically they have the ability to tell Google not to do this so they can't complain.
      • Bullshit right back to you.

        What do you call the Google cache? If you answer anything other than substantial screen scraping, then ding! play again.

        The only leg Google have to stand on is the DMCA, which allows them to infringe copyright so long as they play common carrier. One of the requirements for immunity is that when asked, they promptly remove copyrighted material.

        Now, Google literally steals the contents of millions of web pages, which most people have no problem with. However, a small number o

    • so you are claiming that putting the word 'Beta' in front of your service exempts you from laws?

      Or are you saying that there is some magic gun being pointed at Google and if they removed the beta tag they must put adverting up?

      Please take your paranoid anti-corporate ravings elsewhere.
  • Business model (Score:2, Interesting)

    Most modern online publishers seek and profit from search engine, RSS agregators, etc exposure. Maybe the old media business is just becoming obsolete? Aren't the capitalists allways telling us we can't argue with the market?
    • Most modern online publishers seek and profit from search engine, RSS agregators, etc exposure. Maybe the old media business is just becoming obsolete? Aren't the capitalists allways telling us we can't argue with the market?

      As long as the captialists have their hands in our pockets lol.

  • by ip_freely_2000 ( 577249 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:14PM (#14198073)
    'This is unlikely to be sustainable for publishers in the longer term.'

    Search engines have been in common use for almost 15 years now. How much of a 'longer term' do you need?

    Besides, Search Engines only point to content. Publishers should enhance their content with proper use f metadata to drive traffic to sites with grrat content people WILL pay for.

    In the meantime, it's all just sour grapes.
  • by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:14PM (#14198080) Homepage
    Step 1: Web publishers in Europe sue search engines to stop them from "stealing" their content.

    Step 2: Web publishers in Europe sue search engines to force them to reindex their servers after their customers can no longer find them and their competitors, who were happy to be indexed, get all the traffic.

    Step 3: Web publishers in Europe sue search engines to recover for "damages" since the engines are using their intellectual property - despite the fact that the search engines are now forced to use that property by court order.

    Step 4: Web publishers in Europe are lined up against the wall and shot as the internet collapses from an excess of stupidity.
    • ObSouthPark (Score:2, Funny)

      by sconeu ( 64226 )
      Step 5: ???

      Step 6: PROFIT!

      note: self-modded down with no karma bonus
    • Step 4: Web publishers in Europe are lined up against the wall and shot as the internet collapses from an excess of stupidity.
      No, the Internet would collapse when the courts declared caching illegal. After all, everything from the ISP to the web browser application does caching, and technically it does make a copy of the copyrighted material...
  • They only have to put a NOCACHE directive in their server. Don't askme how, IANAWA (I Am Not A Web Admin), but it can be done.

    This way their content cannot be reproduced without having to pay a subscription. IMHO, they're only making a scene because they're stupid.
  • content providers are in a bit of a catch-22. if they mount their content to the internet for free, then they complain that search engines will make money from it while the content provider gets nothing.

    however, the moment content is placed behind some sort of barrier, the search engines no longer find it and it loses much of its value. the ny times' web site is an excellent example. even though the ny times gives most of its content away for free, they still require registration for access. the registratio
  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:16PM (#14198104) Homepage
    Its just a root level notation anyway.

    Then they can keep their materials nice and safe and away from the prying eyes
    of potential customers.

    Search is NOT costing THEM a friggin's dime, if fact or in sales.

    If they sit on their books, they'll just get their lunch eaten from them by somebody else'; somebody who put his material in searchable form so that people can find it, then buy it.

    Nobody'll ever know about THEIR damn books and nobody'll buy 'em either.
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:18PM (#14198118)
    Cut them off. If they don't want exposure, stop indexing them.

    They'll come crawling back a month later anyway.

    Group: Online content cannot remain free

    It's not free, in exchange for my attention, you get to put up banner ads.

    I believe many non-pron sites that started out as pay-for ended up offering a free way to view their sites - like Salon.com where you have to view a specific amount of ads before you get to the article. Or you can sign up and not deal with any of it - it's a great solution - choice to the consumer and win/win both ways.
  • Balsemao said consumers were drawn online by free content but this needed to change, he said.

    "The value of content must be understood by consumers so that new business models can evolve.

    Yeah. Not only must those who provide free content realize that those who provide equal or worse content must get to charge for their equal or inferior product; those who read free content must understand that it's better for everyone if they choose to pay for an alternative, without getting any more than they would get
  • I can't believe these entitled morons. If it weren't for Google, nobody would find your site, read your story, and click on the ads in your site. Maybe if you were more tasteful with your ads and they were relevant to the story, you would be making money like Google does. The fact is is that they have what amounts to as an RSS-like driven portal-style page much like thousands of news style sites (cough..slashdot..cough) and millions of blogs. Why sue them and not everyone else? Its these greedy compani
  • Same as the RIAA/MPAA wants to swat all technology, the print companies need to learn they produce content not paper products.

    As with content (On all mediums) should be dealt with in a captialist society, if you dont want your content to be used, fine, another content provider will fill the spot. Thats what copyrights exist.

    Not use laws to make it that *ONLY* content will be used. But then, the distribution channels are also owned by the content channels, so we get stuck with them trying to pass self servi
  • "The new models of Google and others reverse the traditional permission-based copyright model of content trading that we have built up over the years," said Francisco Pinto Balsemao, the head of the European Publishers Council, in prepared remarks for a speech at a Brussels conference."

    Just book printers wanting protection. This is a big chance for writers, authors, even news agencies etc. They can all bypass the publishers and publish themselves. Before without a publisher they could print the book at a va
  • According to Eric Schmidt, advertising on Google News [uwtv.org] is a simple matter of priority and importance related to other things in their TODO list. To them, adding more news sources is more important than placing the ads - but he makes a point that ads will come sooner or later. Interesting presentation by the way.
  • If you're so concerned about your intellectual property, then don't put it on the web. If you do put it on the web, search engines will find it.

    Plus, isn't there a tag you can put in an HTML file that will keep Google's spiders from indexing your site? Why not just use that?

    These are people looking for a free meal ticket, from what I can see.
  • by thogard ( 43403 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:32PM (#14198208) Homepage
    Publishers have the same problem that the record companies have. They could produce far more content than the shops can deal with. The RIAA isn't about music, its about getting little bits of plastic moved through the checkouts at shops. Book publishers aren't about literature, its about moving dead trees through the checkouts at shops. There are now millions of people who have better facilities to make music than the Beetles had so there is a potential for a million times more records to be produced. The RIAA's (and the shops) business model can't cope with that and neither can the book publishers.

    I listened to Stephen King talk about the modern publishing business. He is convinced it has been messed up so bad for so long that no decent new author is ever likely to get published. He uses his wife's work as an example. He thinks she is a better author than he is yet the only ones that want to publish her work are using his name to sell the book. He also mentioned that the big book stores (B&N, Boarders) who stack narrow and deep are killing the hope of many authors where the smaller book shops would stock wide but shallow and would order a copy of a book or two and if they sold, would report it to the NYT top 100. Then Wal-mart would look at the things in the top 20 that they hadn't sold and buy a million copies of each which would then mess up the top 10 stats. A decade ago the data being reported for the NYT best seller list was already not very useful and he fears that it will soon be meaningless.
    If you ever get a chance to hear Stephen King speak, go listen to him. He's a very good presenter even if your not into his books.
  • It seems to me that big business perceives any situation where someone makes money utilizing their content as a loss since they are not directly benefiting from or being compensated for that utilization.

    Stupid short-sighted-bastards. They pay GOBS of money so they can have higher ranking in these very same search engines and yet they feel like they are losing somehow? What do they propose? Getting rid of search engines? Are they wanting to be compensated for being searched? *THAT* isn't going to happen
  • ok, opt-out (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eyeball ( 17206 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:43PM (#14198267) Journal
    I wish there was a way for these companies to opt-out. Sure they'll fracture the internet. Eventually they'll realize that search engines will bring users to their competitors, but by then it will probably be too late. Maybe that's why they want to change the way the net works for them en-mass. In any case, I would love to see the publishers make a single dollar of what Google gets in ad revenues in Google's absence.

    There are plenty of examples of industries that make money off the demands generated by others, without paying tribute to the industry creating the demand. Computer manufacturers make money off the demand generated by internet. Radio manufacturers make money off of radio programming. Sure it gets sticky when you're talking about copyright, but even then there's precedence. TV Guide makes money indexing TV programming. Book review magazines make moneys off the books they review.

  • "European publishers warned Tuesday that they cannot keep allowing Internet search engines such as Google Inc. to make money from their content." Ok, what do they plan to do about it... I don't quite understand the legal implications of this, but it doesn't exactly seem like a standard case of copyright infringement to me. Even assuming that they could get anything on Google for this, that just means Google will drop them from everything in the future. Speaking as someone who gets a lot of their news off
  • Search engines do not reproduce content...

    O RLY?

    I have several times found content through google cache that the original publisher has taken down. If you make the argument that google is simply only pointing to a live site, then I think google has a responsibility to absolutely not publish out of date material or material that the original author has "unpublished." Otherwise, google are, in my opinion, very clearly engaging in copyright violation. I think the right to unpublish is an important one.

  • The best isn't even a commercial venture..

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/ [bbc.co.uk]
  • Balsemao said consumers were drawn online by free content but this needed to change, he said.

    Of course it does... Why should people get things for free? I mean you are depriving their site of valuable advertisement income.

    I can get news info for free on television. At any point in time, CNN, BBC, Euronews, Fox News, and tens of other channels are running news content for FREE, 24/7. We consumers are giving the online people the privilege of our attention for a short moment when we visit their sites.


  • by jandrese ( 485 ) * <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:49PM (#14198313) Homepage Journal
    I now realize one basic truth of the World Wide Web, if you create something useful and popular, eventually someone is going to sue you for it. No matter what you do, the fact that you've found something useful is going to be threatening to someone and they're going to sue you (usually for millions of dollars) for it.

    Every new web business should be prepared for a lawsuit at some point, no matter what they do. How many retarded suits have people brought against Google now? Even Slashdot gets lawsuit threats every now and then. Another thing you have to do is get a good idea of your rights and make sure you call people's bluff when they send harassment lawsuits at you (happens ALL of the time on the web).
  • by laughingcoyote ( 762272 ) <barghesthowl@e x c ite.com> on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @07:49PM (#14198317) Journal

    To: M. Amoron, owner, Jackass Publishing.

    From: I. Cheatem, attorney-at-law.

    Dear Sir,

    Attached to my email, you will find a two-line file entitled "robots.txt". The 4-year-old who designed your website should copy it into your top-level web directory. This file is essentially an instruction to Google's web spider to direct people to your competitors rather then you.

    My client Google believes in respecting these wishes. We have happily de-listed your site.

    On a related note, I know some excellent bankruptcy attorneys in your country. In a couple months' time when you come to need one, I will be happy to make a recommendation.

    (Up) Yours,

    I. Cheatem, attorney-at-law.

  • To block searches is to kill the idea of the search engine itself.

    or just contact google directly at http://www.google.com/privacy.html [google.com] ?
  • by cfulmer ( 3166 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @08:01PM (#14198413) Homepage Journal
    There are two generic possible default rules of copyright: (1) you have to ask permission before copying (or other uses), and (2) The copyright owner has to tell you if he denies permission.

    Rule (2) used to be the default rule, at least in the U.S. -- if you didn't mark your content with the (C) logo or otherwise indicate that it is under copyright, you lost your right to sue. (That's not quite how it worked, but close enough...)

    Rule (1) is now the current rule -- everything is presumed to be under copyright and does not need to be marked in order to be protected. The change isn't huge, at least from a practical standpoint, because most people marked their work before the change (doing so wasn't costly) and anybody who wants to copy would go back to the publisher in either case. And,the penalty for not marking was pretty severe. There was also not much demand for widespread copying.

    It seems to me that rule (2) makes the most sense for search engines and other content aggregators, and happens to be the one that's built into the 'net. After all, most websites want to be searched -- the entire reason you put things on the web is so people will come find it and look at your website. Search engines help that. In addition, it's hugely more efficient for websites to say whether they want to be indexed or not than for the search engines to ask permission from each website. In fact, having to ask permission would make search engines impossible. And, besides, robots.txt files have been around almost since the first webserver. It's easy.

    In the US, I suspect that what a search engine does would have to be considered fair use. Probably the most important of the 4 "Fair Use" factors is "the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyright material" -- providing a search capability, even if it also provides links to competitors, has to be a net positive good for a website. Two other of the 4 factors seem to lean in favor of fair use also: (1) "the purpose and character of the use" (basically, a search engine helps people find your content), and (2) "the nature of the copyrighted work" (a web page, which, by nature is intended to be searched.)

    (IANAL yet.)

  • by Pr0xY ( 526811 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @08:08PM (#14198474)
    The solution to this problem is simple, if you don't want people to have access to your material, don't put it on the internet. Sure there will be a certain degree of piracy regarding these materials, but that would be far less widespread. Realistically, if you publish something on a website, well it's kinda just "out there" and if you expect people not to find it, or better yet, expect people not to still have it after you take it down, well you live in a fantasy world. IMHO everything on a legitimate website is fairgame for copying so long as the original authors are properly credited.

    I suppose the issue really is with sites like the New York Times where they ask for a free membership to view their content and expect a certain amount of ad revenue from the viewers. And I am sure they will get annoyed when someone uses the NYT link generator (http://nytimes.blogspace.com/genlink [blogspace.com]) to access the site without logging in, or worse yet, mirrors the story on there own site (while crediting the original source of course). But I mean common, what did they expect to happen?

    It's not that I don't think people have a right to control their content, but more that I think trying to enforce those rights is impossible. Get with the times people.

  • In related news... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JeremyALogan ( 622913 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:18PM (#14198877) Homepage
    In related news a local gas (petrol) station attendant was sued for providing directions. "All the time people would come by and ask me how to get to the local motel. Now I have to tell them that there is no local motel. How' was I to expect the motel would sue me for telling them how to get there?"
  • by belmolis ( 702863 ) <billposer AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @09:56PM (#14199055) Homepage

    I think that the wording of the European publishers' complaint is telling. They don't complain about Google or others publishing their copyrighted material without their permission, which, if true, would be a valid complaint (and perhaps is true of Google cache, however convenient we may find it). What they actually complain about is the fact that other people are making money from their publications. That is not necessarily a violation of copyright and, in the general case, is not a complaint that should be acted upon.

    Suppose that publisher X publishes a book on a controversial topic of wide interest. I write a response to this book which sells well and makes a lot of money. Since my book is a response to publisher X's book, the money (and fame, women, etc. :)) that I received is indeed dependent on the work of Publisher X, but Publisher X has no legal or moral claim on me. The same is true if I compile and publish a bibliography, or make money as a consultant to people who want to know what they ought to read in a certain area. My profit ultimately depends on the work of the publishers, but I don't need their permission and don't owe them a dime.

    Chefs and authors of cookbooks do not require the permission of the farmers, ranchers, hunters, and fishermen without whom there would be nothing to cook or to write about, nor do they owe them compensation. These are some of the many ways in which not only culture and science but business develops on the foundation of work done by other people, yet where we do not consider that the permission of those others is required or that any compensation is owed to them.

    When the publishers complain that other people are making money from their content, our response should be "so what?". In and of itself that isn't a valid basis for complaint. It just means that they haven't been the ones to seize new opportunities. Copyright holders are granted certain limited privileges pertaining to publication and that is it. Beyond that, other people are perfectly free to do whatever they want.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972