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|Publishers Aim For Some Control Of Search Results|
|Global publishers, fearing that Web search engines such as Google Inc. are encroaching on their ability to generate revenue, plan to launch an automated system for granting permission on how to use their content. |
Buoyed by a Belgian court ruling this week that Google was infringing on the copyright of French and German language newspapers by reproducing article snippets in search results, the publishers said on Friday they plan to start testing the service before the end of the year.
"This industry-wide initiative positively answers the growing frustration of publishers, who continue to invest heavily in generating content for online dissemination and use," said Gavin O'Reilly, chairman of the World Association of Newspapers, which is spearheading the initiative.
Publishers aim for some control of search results [today.reuters.co.uk]
Belgian Courts tell Google - no cached pages allowed [webmasterworld.com]
|"Publishers Aim for Some Control of Search Results," has nothing to do with putting Google on trial. |
Well I kinda meant putting them on trial figuratively but that's what I get for using metaphors!
|What the newspapers want is for Google to pay them a royalty for the right to include their content in Google News. |
Didn't know it was for Google News. Thank you for that clarification.
|I just can't see google paying for the right to send you traffic. |
Amen to that. An all or nothing solution is the only way Google will have it. That is their right, after all. Why should Google have to put work into incorporating another tag in order to cater to people who are benefitting from their services in the first place?
Index or noindex, allow Googlebot or don't allow Googlebot. It's your choice.
Whole thing seems batty to me.
It's like if you took an iPod and put it in an ice cream sandwich and then issued stock options. I wanted to use an analogy that got more out in the grass than we already have just to upset BigDave, but I couldn't come up with one.
The issue is fair-use. I don't know the rules in Europe, but in the U.S. Google is playing within the rule of copyright--barely.
Newspapers (and many other content providers now on the web) need to start charging for their new content but sell ads on their archives.
The NYT is selling the archives and selling ads on the archives, too, when it makes sense. Go to the Times website, search on cholesterol and you'll see a page offered of a collection of news stories on cholesterol. Go to that page and you'll see good stories surrounded by ads for Lipitor, a drug said to control cholesterol.
If the newspapers followed this model, Google would be marketing their news to the world, which would pay what it was worth.
We need to get a micro-payments system in place. I know many are working on it, but it is going to take some vision to make it work.
The publishers in Europe are taking the wrong approach. But, the fact is, no matter what they do, they'll never see the return on their news as they once did. The model is broken and it cannot be fixed.
How about a slightly different analogy?
Think of the newspaper publishers as being somewhat analogous to book publishers or authors, around the time when movies were invented. If they can get away with it, they'd like to force the movie studios to pay them for the right to make movies out of their novels, even though a movie helps them sell more books. And we can all agree this certainly isn't the same as stealing in the sense that this doesn't keep publishers from continuing to print and sell their books.
In fact, this would arguably be a symbiotic relationship somewhat like Google's relationship with most webmasters -- the publisher makes a few extra bucks selling books to people who heard about or saw the move, while the movie studio also benefits -- they make a hundred million bucks if the movie is a blockbuster hit.
But I suppose that seems fair, since the movie studios are a lot bigger, and so they need to pay bigger salaries than the little book publishers.
Of course, that's not the way the scenario actually played out. To the contrary, movie studios were required to pay royalties to book publishers and/or authors (whoever retains the relevant rights), even if the movie is only loosely based on the book, and even if the book publisher didn't explicitly state that movie rights were specifically being reserved.
In fact, the book publisher's rights may even be protected if they forget to print a copyright notice in the front of the book.
I'm not trying to take sides here -- just pointing out that this is anything but cut and dried, and that this legal pushing and probing has potential consequences well beyond the specific facts being discussed here.
|Think of the newspaper publishers as being somewhat analogous to book publishers or authors, around the time when movies were invented. If they can get away with it, they'd like to force the movie studios to pay them for the right to make movies out of their novels, even though a movie helps them sell more books. And we can all agree this certainly isn't the same as stealing in the sense that this doesn't keep publishers from continuing to print and sell their books. |
The problem with this analogy is that a movie based on a book is a derivative work, especially if it is a work of fiction.
Google's use of the snippet is Fair Use, and the ache is covered under the DMCA.
Google's use is within their rights, the use of a book to make a movie is within the control of the copyright holder.
In fact, google's use of snippets is protected by the very same law that news organizations use to quote other news reports. How often have you seen "The Washington Post is reporting ..." in a different newspaper.
I'm not a lawyer, but I suspect this is just one more skirmish in an overall legal testing process -- the publishers are pushing and probing to find out exactly what their rights are -- under both European and international copyright laws.
How much can Google use as a matter of right, even if the publishers don't like it?
And, of course, if they don't like the results of this skirmish, there is always the possibility of getting the copywrite laws rewritten.
Not something you or I could contemplate, but politicians may be give a sympathetic hearing to newspaper publishers in a battle with a deep pocketed US corporation that has minimal European political clout.
The publishers certainly to have the opportunity to test the limits of the laws in some of the european countries, especially those like France, where copyright seems to be much more of an absolute right of the publisher's.
|And, of course, if they don't like the results of this skirmish, there is always the possibility of getting the copywrite laws rewritten. |
In the US, the lawmakers cannot write the current definition of Fair Use out of the law without ammending the Constitution. Fair Use is now in the statute, but it is there because the courts had standardized on it for something like 120 years before it made itn into the US Code.
The reason Fair Use exists, is to make copyright legal in the United States. Copyright without Fair Use is incompatable with the First Amendment of the Constitution. As an ammendment trumps whatever is in the constitution itself, it would beat out the copyright clause.
I expect that most of the commonwealth countries would have similar problems getting rid of Fair Dealings.
I've said for a few years now that the big US based internet portal companies should get their legal entities out of countries like France, where their IP laws are in conflict with those of the United States. Find EC countries with similar copyright laws and base your operations there.
|Then you missed my point completely. |
If Google choses NOT to accept the terms of your contract, in the United States they are allowed to cache your site. They do not have to accept your terms to do that.
I don't think I missed your point; I am aware that Google legally can cache in most countries; but that does not mean they have to. I believe it is in Google's (long term) interest to have a contractual opt-in, rather than take advantage of a legal loophole that makes many publishers unhappy, and has already set in train a series of serious, frivolous and / or laughable law suits.
|You, as the publisher, cannot unilaterally give yourself more rights than copyright law give you. |
I wouldn't suggest otherwise. Or wish it.
|They are simply not going to accept a system that another industry group tries to force on them, that would reduce their rights under copyright law. |
You may be right; I think otherwise, as legal fees mount up, and different rules begin to apply in different countries. SE life is complicated enough - I hope that they will see that an 'opt in' system serves everyone better - and I hope they see that soon.
|Would your 6 month plan be from the time that they first crawl the page, or the last time? |
Maybe I didn't make myself clear. I am suggesting that SEs agree a system of a 'cache meta tag'; once they've announced it, they'd give six months notice before applying it. After the six months period, sites with a 'no cache' tag - or no cache meta tag at all - would cease to cached by SEs.
Thus only sites that had 'opted in' would be cached.
|Do you understand the burden this puts on the SE in regards to record keeping on 20 billion pages stored on thousands of servers in hundreds of data centers? |
SEs already keep records; I'm not suggesting new ones, simply amending the current records.
|It isn't unworkable, but it isn't simple. And it certainly is not legally binding on the SE. |
Nothing is simple; but in the long run, such a scheme would be simpler than the current anarchy. New tags aren't as frightening as they look; look at the pain free introduction of nofollow and the sitemap validation tag. They Have The Technology.
It WOULD be legally binding if they chose to make it so; a contract is a contract. Please be clear - I'm not suggesting forcing the SEs to do anything. I'm suggesting they CHOOSE to do something, which I believe would satisfy a lot of smouldering publishers all over the world - and call the bluff of a bunch of greedy chancers.
But I'm happy to agree to disagree on every single point :)
[edited by: Quadrille at 11:53 pm (utc) on Sep. 22, 2006]
|I believe it is in Google's (long term) interest to have a contractual opt-in, |
That is just plain wrong. It is never in your interest to sign on to a contract that only limits your rights according to the law, without giving you anything in return.
|rather than take adanatage of a legal loophole that makes many publishers unhappy, and has already set in train a series of serious, frivolous and laughable law suits. |
Fair Use is not a "legal loophole", nor is it an "exception" to copyright. It is the rights retained by the people, that were never granted to the copyright holder to begin with.
If that upsets some publishers, then so be it. They do not own their work, they only own the copyright and the rights that are granted with that copyright.
Google is far better off standing for their Fair Use rights and only paying for those rights that go beyond Fair Use.
|SEs already keep records; I'm not suggesting new ones, simply amending the current records |
Yes, they keep records. But implemeting actions on a specific date depending on what those records say is a rather difficult matter.
|it WOULD be legally binding if they chose to make it so; a contract is a contract. |
Yes, it would be legally binding in that case, and therfore stupid for them to agree to it.
At some point, it will just be easier for them to remove their legal presence from the problem juridictions.
A news search engine basxed totally within the united states, would only be subject to United Stated copyright law, and the lawsuits would have to be filed here to have any impact. The same goes for the main search engine.
They could still sell ads to other countries, and serve results to those countries, but they would conduct all their business in the United States.
It will only be those search engines that have a legal presence in those problem countries that will be in trouble. To compete, they will have to become less multi-national.
Your arguments seem more xenophobic than legal; I'm suggesting that Google would gain significantly, in clarity of operation and ending a growing trend of legal attacks.
And these include US cases. You keep on about the cache being legal in the States, well yes; up to a point. The only significant legal test on that was won by Google, on the basis that they kept the cache for a couple of weeks. you may well not be aware, but often the cache is kept for considerably longer than that.
You may also be aware that many copyright experts, including in the States, are far from convinced that the cache is legally 'fair use'.
Fair use may well be protected by the Constitution - though not specifically in any version I've seen - but the definition of 'fair use' is not enshrined in the constitution, but defined by the courts.
Do you seriously believe there will be no further challenges within the USA? While the copyright tradition is indeed different to that in continental Europe, the US has publishers equally protective of their rights - and just as quick, or quicker, to reach for a reptile. Sorry, lawyer ;)
But I can see that we have very different perspectives on the point of having a contract, so this really, really (I promise) is my last in this thread.
|Your arguments seem more xenophobic than legal |
Only when you do not want to look at it logically.
By becoming a legal entity in a juistiction, you are saying that you will abide by the laws of that juristiction. I have Friends in both Utah and Mississippi, but I'm not real fond of the laws in either of those states, so I'm not going to move there.
In fact, on a personal level, I'm a lot more likely to move to France than either of those states. The french laws are actually quite good for her residents. They just suck for companies like Google or Yahoo.
Does it make sense for a company that deals in pornography to open up shop in a strict muslim country?
How about a search engine with a motto of "don't be evil" and a very anti-censorship attitude to open up shop and stike deals with mainland china?
It is very much a legal/business decision. What are the benefits of opening up shop in a country as compared to the risks of being subject to the laws of that country.
|The only significant legal test on that was won by Google, on the basis that they kept the cache for a couple of weeks. you may well not be aware, but often the cache is kept for considerably longer than that. |
No, it was not won on that basis. That was just the basis for the decision that it was, in fact, temporary. That does nto mean that the rare longer time frames are not considered temporary.
The thing is, that Google won on ALL points in that case, when all points were not necessary.
|You may also be aware that many copyright experts, including in the States, are far from convinced that the cache is legally 'fair use'. |
Yes, I am aware that many "experts" are not all that convinced that the cache is legal. If you look at my own posting history, you will find that it is the area that I think that Google is most vulnerable.
I am also aware that most of the real copyright experts, the ones that wrote the books that the judges studied in law school, seem to be of the opinion that Google could quite well be safe on the Fair Use claims, even if they did not have the DMCA safe harbor.
|Fair use may well be protected by the Constitution - though not specifically in any version I've seen - but the definition of 'fair use' is not enshrined in the constitution, but defined by the courts. |
It is the first amendment.
|Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; |
If anything in copyright law restricts freedom of speech, copyright law is illegal.
|Do you seriously believe there will be no further challenges within the USA? |
I never even suggested that. But if there was a real obvious chance of winning, some of the serious players would have sued already.
There are going to be lots of lawsuits, I would just be surprised if they were very easy to win.
Come on people, "Publishers Aim For Some Control Of Search Results" is the silliest thing I've ever seen because anyone with basic knowledge of robots.txt and a little programming skill can completely control what Google indexes.
Never heard such idiotic tripe in my life, here's 2 simple lines that will give them complete control over every search engine on the planet, drop them into robots.txt and enjoy.
Now when the initial shock wears off that your site has ZERO traffic you can go back and create an RSS feed and a similar page of headlines and put all your full text content in a directory '/content' and then go revise your robots.txt file with a little sanity.
Of course the small minded people that get promoted to management aren't actually looking for REAL solutions as the truth is people don't CARE about their bloated tree killing smeared ink rags in the first place and once you start picking up news on the 'net, which is global, the redundancy of all the same articles being licensed and reprinted by all these different companies is completely meaningless.
For instance, I can check the news at my local news website or I can just check the direct feeds from Reuters on Yahoo and skip the old dinosaur site. Also get the TV guide online, haven't bought one in years, and movie listings, so on and so forth.
Funny, sites like the Wall Street Journal sure seem to be able to control THEIR content in the search engines so perhaps the rest of them just aren't that smart.
The most importan question is:
What's in it for me as a user of Google to find news?
Seems this proposal is just going to make things difficult for the end user. Without the end user both Google and the newspapers are dead. Don't upset us or we'll just turn on the TV and catch the news in full colour video with sound!
To be quite honest I think Google made their mistake when they provided the nocache tag and such like. It opened the door to more and more webmaster driven options. In my opinion it should have only ever been all (index, cache, the whole works) or nothing (not indexed, not cached, blacklisted).
Google have been bending-over-backwards to help big publishers for years now. Look at Google scholar - 80% of all articles I click on in there require me to purchase them before reading. You can't tell me that such an obstructive arrangement was for the benefit of Google or the End User!
The whole argument is flawed. In order for a search engine to know what your page is about it has to have a local copy. The serp snippets that search engines show are very dynamic, they change according to the query. This is because the search engine has a local copy of your entire document.
Now as for cache, Google pretty much set the bar on this one by having a "cached" link on the serps. Lets be honest every search engine has one, it's just Google (and the rest lately) that make it public.
So what would you rather have, a search engine that kept a secret local copy, or a visible copy. Either way the search engine needs to analyse your page and with the increasing complexity of ow search engines work this really needs to be computed locally.
I believe if you don't want snippets or cache then block Google, you can't have it both ways.
This issue underscores something that has been needed for a long time: a better mechanism than robots.txt
Examples of what is missing now:
- allow pages, not just disallow.
- use identifying mechanism the crawl gives to your site so a response based on use, not just crawler name.
- a remote database sites can use to verify the crawler. For instance, I want search engines in, scrapers out. Each entity pays the database to verify their data uses. Its not unreasonable given that there a paid verifications for SSL certs.
- caching directives.
- content use directives.
- duration directives
- content type directives such as public, requires free registration, or requires payment. This will allow search engines to display this information and save users time.
- tie in to something similar to Google Sitemaps.
...and a whole lot more that I don't have the will to type while postin with my Treo.
The distinction Mack reminds us of is an important one.
From the newspaper publishers' perspective, the difference between a behind-the-scenes cache and a public one is potentially very important.
Somewhat analogous to the difference between private use of a video tape in your home, and public display of that video tape at a neightborhood get-together or impromptu theater.
There is a continuum of use, and some uses have greater potential adverse competitive impact than others.
Google News has much more potential for adverse impact on a newspaper than the normal search engine results do for a typical website (where the benefits clearly outweigh the costs).
Similarly, Google's feature that lets users see a cached copy of a document has much more potential for adverse impact on a newspaper than the normal caching process, which is used behind the scenes.
It is much more difficult, for example, for a newspaper to force users to sign in, or pay, before reading archived articles if savvy users know they can read the article by pulling down Google's cached copy.
|It is much more difficult, for example, for a newspaper to force users to sign in, or pay, before reading archived articles if savvy users know they can read the article by pulling down Google's cached copy. |
If a newspaper wanted user registrations or pay-per-view downloads, why wouldn't it just prohibit caching in robots.txt? How complicated is that?
|This is because the search engine has a local copy of your entire document. |
Not strictly true ..
Anything referenced to by "src=" etc in your document (ie; any images called into the veiwers browser by the html code you build your pages with )..are served "live" from your own server and are not cached chez google ..
You can prove this to yourself by using htaccess or the equivalent blocking mechanism in your sites control panel to prevent hotlinking ..when you do so the images will not be available to the "cached in google page" and the cached page displays without them ..
Or you can substitute any image with another and then visit the google cache again with a "refresh" command to your browser ..whatever the supposed "cached date" showed by google in their header ..the image will be the one you just made live in your own server ..
Search engines only store the text ..
People veiwing ones image laden pages in google cache ( googles framed and rebranded exploitation of your material ) can consume a great deal of bandwidth as they ( the veiwer ) are calling the images from your server ( via the google cache of your text and your html ) without ever actually visiting your pages ..this also makes a mockery of trying to keep your logs accurate ..you can get many hits on your images without actually getting any visitors to your site ..
Using htaccess to restrict googles version of your pages to text only will "force" the veiwer to actually visit your pages if they want to see your images ..and whilst they are actually on your pages they will then see your adsense or whatever ..and maybe click on it or buy something ..whereas allowing google or anyone else to serve up your entire pages via their framed rebranding ( whether they call it cached or whatever )is just dumb..
There are other things one can do to cover up the largest part of the rebranding header that search engines place when they "cache" your site ..the cache can be subverted .
[edited by: Leosghost at 2:56 pm (utc) on Sep. 25, 2006]
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