|Murdoch: I will block Google|
And challenge 'Fair Use' principles, thinks headline/snippet use is illegal
From the BBC [news.bbc.co.uk]
|The billionaire told Sky News Australia he will explore ways to remove stories from Google's search indexes, including Google News. |
Mr Murdoch's News Corp had previously said it would start charging online customers across all its websites.
He believes that search engines cannot legally use headlines and paragraphs of news stories as search results.
"There's a doctrine called 'fair use', which we believe to be challenged in the courts and would bar it altogether," Mr Murdoch told the TV channel. "But we'll take that slowly."
Ok, so we all know that he could simply prevent indexing, but I'm sure he's aware of that too. Seems the wily old fox wants to go much further than just that and seeks change the entire landscape of the web by making it illegal for anyone and anything to use text from copyrighted stories as search result snippets.
The ramifications are huge. How very, very interesting...
|Murdoch is supplying Google with free traffic? |
I wanted to return to this one, because I think it highlights a major misconception.
There is no such thing as "free". Google traffic always comes at a price. Billions of dollars have been poured into attaining "free" Google traffic. Entire industries have come and gone around the idea of "free" Google traffic.
Even you, signor_john, have committed significant resources into obtaining "free" Google traffic.
Even the content that Google offers to its visitors for "free" comes at a cost, but that cost is largely born by publishers - to the profit of Google.
As much as I depend on Google I also recognize that it has largely become a parasite. Everytime I read the all too common admonitions that people NOT let their online presence become too dependent on Google I say to myself, "yeah, right." Only of the sites I am responsible for has a majority of traffic from non-Google referrals.
If you are making money of the Internet, Google is finding a way to get their share.
|There is no such thing as "free". Google traffic always comes at a price. |
Let's consider that statement in the context of this thread:
- Google News sends traffic to News Corp. properties.
- In some cases, users may not bother to click through to News Corp. properties, because (like the person who walks past a newsstand) all they care about are the headlines. "Fort Hood Shooter Kills 12" is enough for them; they aren't the kind of people who have patience for details.
So yes, maybe News Corp. loses a few potential readers in New York who, if Google News didn't exist, might have gone directly to NYPost.com to read the headline and register a display-ad impression before heading off to Twitter or Facebook.
BUT, News Corp. is also getting traffic and ad impressions from readers who normally aren't interested in the NEW YORK POST and might have read the news elsewhere if they hadn't seen the POST's headline on Google News.
For Mr. Murdoch, the bottom line should be whether he gains more than he loses by having his news headlines indexed and presented by Google News.
One thing he can't count on is a return to the days when THE NEW YORK POST had a monopoly on afternoon text news in New York. As much as it pains him, the Internet--more specifically, the Web--has introduced competition to a news industry that has long been dominated by local monopolies in many markets (especially in the U.S.). Google News may be his whipping boy du jour, but competition is his real enemy, and there's nothing he can do about that.
from copyright law excerpt in post by Syzygy above
|summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report |
The opening paragraph of all news stories, themselves, is a summary. 'who what where when'. This summary is there so the reader can determine if the article is worth reading. It is not the news story itself. If you read any news story it starts with this very specific kind of paragraph. It contains 4 facts (the Why and the How being contained in the story that comes afterward.). Facts are not copyrightable, These 4 facts are not copyrightable. (Since titles are also not copyrightable, I doubt if headlines are either.)
Even if Murdoch wins, the end result is only going to be that Google has to pay someone to sit and rewrite the same 4 facts and an identical summary for each news article. That's all. If George W. Bush kills a Condor with a golfball at Pebble Beach on Sunday, that is 4 facts. Who, What, Where, When. They are not intellectual property. That is all that I see in these "snippets" in Google news. They are copying the specific summary for each news article. This is a simple service to everyone involved. The reader and the publisher. Anyone can pick up a copy of the New York Times, open it to the 2nd page and read the list of summaries, decide if there's anything worth reading about, and put it back down. This is the polite and informative way to treat readers, and always has been. The internet has changed this and given website publishers new ways of cheating people of their time. attempting to force certain behaviours on their visitors. An MFA site, for instance, shows the new impolite way for a publisher to treat their reader. (Although there are hardcopy counterparts, like fashion mags which bury their contents page of story summaries under 10-30 pages of ads, forcing you to flip through them to find the contents Page:)
I get the feeling that news publishers who complain that Google is stealing their content by aggregating news article summaries so that readers don't have to visit the actual sites, are really complaining that Google is taking away all their "impressions" by giving readers advance warning on wether the content is worth reading or not, and stealing their opportunity to force visitors to run their rat maze and extort clicks.
Furthermore - I have gone to Google News for the third time now since this thread started, and I still cannot find a single advertisement ! Not one, anywhere. The entire proposition that Google is running a scraper site for it's own ad revenue is based on the presumption that there are ads on Google News, and there aren't any.
Finally, I hate 'the news', it ruins my day and distracts me from thinking about much more important things. However, Googles pages do present a fairly clean and readable listing of news stories with quick and concise abstracts of the stories. If I was going to turn into a news junky, this doesn't seem like a bad place to start. Short compact summaries for some stories, simple headlines for most, and no ads...
Forst off, this is about fair use, not "free traffic". But, I'll play for now...
You can not simply look at the main G-News page. You must include the search function (which is also where the ads show up).
Search news for 'free wifi'. What do you find? How about 'seattle flu' (interstingly, there is an ad for Bing right now). 'NASA'? 'health care'?
Let's follow a potential click path for 'health care' (a fairly lucrative add space I would guess).
From the G home page I enter my search
I am presented with three ads across the top and eight down the side.
Immediately under the top three ads is related searches and then...
News results. I click on news results, and...
There is a page of news stories with 6 more ads down the side.
Seventeen ads and not a lick of Google generated content.
Click on any of the "Related Searches" and the same thing happens, except with the addition of a click.
Accident? I think not!
Fair use? It will be interesting to find out, won't it.
I am rooting for Murdoch on this one. What Google is doing is parasitic, perhaps even predatory.
Let's try another click path. Imagine I want to read what the Post says about health care.
I enter "new y" and Google offers to fill in the search - "times, post..." I click on post.
So far, so good. No ads. The NY Post is right at the top. And, there is a handy little search box - "Search nypost.com"
I enter 'health care' and click.
Bam! There's nine ads, one right across the top before there is any result from the Post itself.
I really wanted to read the opinion page, so I back up, go to "opinions" and I am presented with only two ads above the fold (and eleven ads total).
Fair use? We'll see...
One word of criticism for newspaper/media owners (not specifically Newscorp). If they are serious about creating some counterweight to Google News, they need to create an alternative aggregator - just using Murdoch as an attack dog while sitting pretty is not a survival strategy.
Clearly, consumers want to search across multiple news content properties and right now, Google News is the only realistic way to do so.
I don't understand why at least the major publishers can't just get together and fund an alternative news aggregation site, then phase out their participation in Google News (most likely, severely weakening it by turning it into a blog search engine) and enjoy sharing profits from both the aggregation side (the anti-Google-News) and the branded side (their branded web site). I have to assume it's their internal bickering that's stopping them from doing so. Well then - egging Murdoch on is certainly easier.
I am surprised! Google is talking against the copyin/stealing the content in any Wesbsite.How could they steal/copy from news media? Also G is planning to archive from Old News Papers'content to explore businesss.It is good for the readers, but they should first take permissions from all owners of news media to avoid litigation. Any comment folks!
|Furthermore - I have gone to Google News for the third time now since this thread started, and I still cannot find a single advertisement ! Not one, anywhere. The entire proposition that Google is running a scraper site for it's own ad revenue is based on the presumption that there are ads on Google News, and there aren't any. |
Well, that's because Google follows the business model of Underpants Gnomes.
Phase 1: Collect Underpants
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit!
This is especially true with YouTube.
|As much as I depend on Google I also recognize that it has largely become a parasite. |
It's been a gradual slip, but the situation is getting worse. The organic listings are disappearing, snippets are getting longer, and Google is getting greedier about its share of the traffic and revenue. Bing is only a little slower to follow the same trend. With that in mind, I don't think there's any coincidence about the timing of this interview.
Newspapers are doomed, with or without Google.
The monopoly on being able to publish has been broken by the Internet, and that's what always going to hurt them very badly.
Any blogger sitting in his bedroom with a laptop can get his digital picture and story out and earn some advertising dollars himself. He can promote it way faster than any newspaper using facebook, twitter and the like. And that trend is only going to continue. Sure those who had control in the past would very much like to retain it and continue to impose their way of thinking on their readers.
Just like the music industry: these are the spasms of a dying industry.
And it's got nothing to do with Google.
maybe newspapers will end up as an e-book kind of thing. where people just download it to their ebook reader every day. they could download it to their iphone as well.
it would be easy for papers to get subscriptions for that. the cost of a daily might even be cheaper than the printed version. easy to put ads in them as well. and papers can carry on getting their demographic data.
The music industry is far from being a dying industry, evolved yes, dying no. The only change has been the format and point of sale. That is where Murdoch sees the news industry heading. Creating news costs money, the same can be said for music, but who are Google to become the self designated middleman?
Put simply content creators have the right to decide how their work is distributed. Google is gradualy becoming more and more if a leech, how would you feel if it was your content being scraped and posted on G news and containing enough detail to make visiting the content pointless.
People have basically said news media is dead why go to news corp properties when you can read the same news else where. Who actualy broke the news and how many of those other so called news sites simply read the news and rewrite it.
Reporting news costs money. Why should Google. Profit from someone else's work, many have said Google are sending Murdoch traffic. Do you honestly see a Google news click through converting to anything meaningful?
There are only so many sources of good news, the rest are either leechers or redrafters. It only takes the few remaining true news producers to say enough already and Google would be left with nothing but low quality, 2nd hand news.
Q: from all the talk and comments about Google News scraping content from sites against the site owners' wishes and places this content/snippets onto Google News... does that mean Google News is no longer a register-to-have-your-site-included site (i.e. very specifically "opt in")?
I must admit my sites have been included for quite a long time now (to the extent that I've forgotten how I got there) but I was sure that way back when it was I that had to approach Google News to sign up to have my site included. And I have a bespoke XML feed still running today that is specifically for content I wish to have placed in Google News.
Is that not the case any more? From the rhetoric on here it sounds not, but I'm probably out of that loop now.
Edit - changed all 'Google' to 'Google News' to make it clear I'm talking specifically about the News part and not about the standard search index / results.
[edited by: davelms at 6:01 pm (utc) on Nov. 12, 2009]
There is an opt in aspect, if you arent listed and would like to be you can add your site. But generaly they will add the major news sources for each of the categories.
|but I was sure that way back when it was I that had to approach Google to sign up to have my site included. |
When most sites first start out, they have zero backlinks from other sites so there's no way the Google crawler can find and index the page. It's not really opt-in, you're just telling Google Spider where you are instead of letting it come find you.
@mack - ok, understood. Thanks. Yes, I'm very much small fry so had to 'opt in' my site manually - and that explains why I still seem to have some degree of control over those articles that appear in Google News and those that don't.
|Reporting news costs money. Why should Google. Profit from someone else's work, many have said Google are sending Murdoch traffic. Do you honestly see a Google news click through converting to anything meaningful? |
You could just as easily ask, "Why should Rupert Murdoch profit from a story that broke in the BOSTON GLOBE or on CNN before it was picked up by THE NEW YORK POST" (Or "Why should Rupert Murdoch profit from the Fort Hood shootings?," if you've been under the impression that news reporting is a public service.)
Fact is, each company that earns a profit from the news--wherever it originated--adds value in some way, whether it's by aggregating news headlines and driving traffic to news sites (as Google News does) or by taking news from other sources and presenting it to their local audiences (as printed newspapers do when they use wire-service stories or rewrite news from other newspapers or broadcast outlets).
Again, Rupert Murdoch's problem isn't Google, it's competition. The person who wants the latest body count in Afghanistan, the latest baseball score from Yankee Stadium, or the latest business news from Lower Manhattan doesn't have to read THE NEW YORK POST or THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. The Internet provides countless other options, and Google News is merely a way of helping searchers find those other options. I live in a Midwestern U.S. city, but on a typical day, I might read news stories from media in New York, London, Frankfurt, or Sydney--and whether I'm doing that by going to Google news or typing "www.guardian.co.uk" into my browser, I'm potentially depriving my local daily newspaper of circulation and advertising revenue.
Instead of complaining about news-headline aggregators or the Internet, publishers like Rupert Murdoch should be taking advantage of the opportunities that are being offered to them. Google News is a way to expose potential readers to a news publisher's products at virtually no cost: There's no need to hand out sample copies by subway entrances or offer 30-day trial subscriptions, or to spend money on direct-mail solitications or telemarketing.
To build on an old expression, Rupert Murdoch shouldn't be looking a gift horse in the mouth; he should be jumping in the horse's saddle and seeing where it can take him.
I'm confused as to why people are confused about why this is happening. It seems pretty obvious.
Google 'borrows' content from around the web. Google serves up advertising with this content. Google makes a killing.
Effectively Google makes its living by stealing/borrowing/indexing content that they aren't paying for. For most folks out there, this is something of a reciprocal relationship. Google makes money off your content but you get traffic (and assumedly money) that you otherwise might not have got.
As your business gets larger, you begin to get a brand strength that goes above and beyond the simple relationship mentioned above. Google taking your news and mixing those headlines with your competitors and taking a cut of the advertising dollars (via text ads served with those snippets) is a much nicer/faster way of browsing the news. So they start to leech your traffic and your advertising revenue. If Google is making money off of your efforts and content, it makes sense that you should get a piece of that.
Is this good for the web? Probably not. Does Murdoch have a case and is he right? Probably.
|Mr. Murdoch wants to have his cake and eat it too |
Unfortunately Murdoch has led an entire life, including his father before him, where governments of the day and, Australia in particular - in his early career, simply changed the rules whenever and however to suit him.
Perhaps he sees that possibly coming to an end and is angling yet again to change the rules. He's certainly out to strangle the "unfair" BBC in the UK and his recent pact with the Conservatives there is a sure sign of that.
Now if he can only change how the pesky internet operates.
I think a lot of people in here imagine Murdoch as this old, greedy, clueless guy who wants everything to change for him. The man has a point though. Google takes content and we have no choice but to play by their rules.
Also, everyone that is okay with what Google is doing, please PM me your site and let me create feeds of your content! I will spider it everyday and put your content next to my ads. Sound good? You get a link to your site with all your competitors links and I get the ad money of being the middle man! Sounds like a big win-win to me!
Firstly I think the amount of traffic going to Google over news would be infinitesimal in the overall scheme of things.
Secondly, the number of people going to Google News and getting the "guts" of a story otherwise carried by a News Corp outlet and then leaving would be even several orders of magnitude lesser.
Thirdly, I believe News Corp probably has more traffic driven to them from Google than they would lose because people just learnt what they needed to know from a snippet on Google News as above.
Easy for Murdoch to prove or disprove. Change your robots.txt to exclude all SE's.
If your traffic increases then you're right. If it drops then you were wrong.
I'll back the latter.
|I think a lot of people in here imagine Murdoch as this old, greedy, clueless guy who wants everything to change for him |
No, I simply regard him as "pure evil" who has for decades manipulated governments to get his own way to the detriment of the public interest.
"Toe the line or I'll give you bad press" - Literally.
Watch Faux News for examples.
Another point heavily overlooked here. Much of what passes for "news" are in fact just recycled PR hand outs from corporations, government departments, vested interests AND information supplied by organisations such as AAP, Reuters, etc.
Information which is already in the public domain. The "opinion pieces" in the news usually appear in parallel on a companion blog.
just because google gives them traffic doesn't mean they can do what they do.
google's favourite comeback for scraping our stuff is "but we give you traffic". so what? what's that got to do with anything.
they are trying to convince people that traffic is the equivalent of money. if they want our content then they should pay for it, like everyone else. sending me a few thousand people who won't buy anything is no recompense for scrapping my stuff.
after all, they are getting something concrete out of it -- an actual product -- but traffic might end up as nothing at all.
it's like me walking into a bottle shop and drinking all the beer, and in return i send along 100 people from alcoholics anonymous. "but i'm sending you traffic" i say. it's a fair swap!
I don't think robots.txt is the answer. The problem isn't with serps, but how news is presented within Google news. When papers started to go online search traffic was there for the taking. Everyone was a winner, Google was a search engine, their goal was to serve results and sites showed up in the results. someone searches for widget and the user might end up on a new sites article about widgets. the problem arose when Google decided it wanted not only to serve results, but to dedicate an entire Google service to news. Again and again we see Google pushing the bounderies of the law, be it books, or news it's effectivly the same thing.
The question is how will you react when Google start to move into your teritory, take your content and save the user the hassle of having to visit your website.
My answer to Mr Murdoch...
Send Google a bill for using his content, if they refuse to pay because there was no agreement in place simply state the agreement to pay was "opt out" :)
Its called Karma!
|I don't think robots.txt is the answer. The problem isn't with serps, but how news is presented within Google news. |
Sorry, but that doesn't make sense. If Mr. Murdoch's Webmasters exclude Google's crawlers with robots.txt, the Murdoch media empire's headlines and snippets won't be displayed by Google News. Mr. Murdoch will no longer need to worry that Google is "stealing his content."
|Information which is already in the public domain. |
Just about all information that is reported is in the public domain. Reporting it it is the trick. Google does not do reporting.
|If Mr. Murdoch's Webmasters exclude Google's crawlers with robots.txt, the Murdoch media empire's headlines and snippets won't be displayed by Google News. Mr. Murdoch will no longer need to worry that Google is "stealing his content." |
so presumably that means we are all well within our rights to scrape the entire content of google news everyday and reprint it under our own logo?
if they don't like us doing it, then all they have to do is block us in robots.txt.
seeing as they haven't blocked my bot (...i've had a look at google's robot's file, and i'm not there), then that means i can go along and take it all.
they are just snippets after all, nothing copyrightable.
what's the difference?
None as far as I can see.
|so presumably that means we are all well within our rights to scrape the entire content of google news everyday and reprint it under our own logo? |
Are you suggesting that Google News is scraping the "entire content" of Mr. Murdoch's newspapers every day and reprinting it under its own logo? If so, the Google News you're seeing is different from the one that I'm seeing in my browser.
you're just putting dopey arguments in my mouth, to try and replace a fair comment. of course i'm not saying that.
read it again, and tell us what the difference is.
My remark about robots.txt is valid, why would they want to block Google or any other from indexing their pages. Their beef is with how Google presents articles within Google news. They have no real problem with conventional serps.