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The French news service is seeking damages of at least $17.5 million and an order barring Google News from displaying AFP photographs, news headlines or story leads, according to the suit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
I think the case against Google has merit, and it's important.
Keep in mind that the typical news website gets less that 2 pageviews per visitor. (Yahoo, NYT, CNN and just a handful of others do better.) Google News is taking one of those pageviews--where the reader is looking at the headlines, then going to that one story they are interested in reading, then leaving.
A few years ago anything that brought traffic was good and welcomed, but now it's all about share of the market that exists.
Google ( and Topix.net ) aren't doing the news sites any favors.
Merit, why? Google at most uses a thumbnail and a sentence, clearly within the fair use. The public's right to know is more important than AFP's copyright of that sentence. Methinks this will not even make it to the trial, it will be dismissed by a judge right away.
If Google brings traffic, or at least creates an increased awareness of a media outlet, does that result in an increase or decrease in revenues or profits for the media outlet?
What is the downside of the Google traffic measured in terms of financial loss or costs?
Once the discussion of issues falls outside the analysis profits or losses the issues to debate grow exponentially.
There's an argument for keeping it simple: It's about the money, stupid! If it's making you more money than it's costing you shut up.
There's a million arguments for everything else: It's about control, creatives, etc. In that case, the answer invariably is the courts.
The funny thing about the "million other arguments" and the courts is this: 90%+ of the time, the final outcome of court proceedings is the movement of money.
My vote: Cut off the traffic if it makes them happy and don't ever let them back in once they opt out. That way, if their competitor gains an advantage by accepting the traffic that they refused, the complaining party can pridefully take credit for their own decline.
It's good to take responsibility after all. Give 'em the chance and don't look back.
Or, look to set legal precents and then get to live with them, which in this industry may be the more efficient methodology.
Go figure. Just don't blame the lawyers. ;0)
an order barring Google News from displaying AFP photographs, news headlines or story leads
The web is not like another medium. You are releasing content to the public. You are participating in a known protocol. Robots.txt is a well-known and long used protocol on the internet.
Displaying photographs on your own website is a little different though, depending how it's done. A thumbnail could be considered fair use. But maybe the court won't view it that way. Is caching fair use? Good questions.
But saying that Google has to go beyond the robots.txt just for AFP is stretching it. Don't display headlines? Snippets are what fair use is all about.
Google has to go beyond the robots.txt
Google doesn't have to go beyond the robots.txt, they just have to respect all of it. Robots.txt has two major directives disallow and allow.
As has been pointed out in this thread, copyright is opt-in. If google is not explictly allow'ed by the robots.txt they should not spider and use others' intellectual property.
In relation to the discussions so far, I am by no means clued on this, but as most of us do I have an opinion. I believe wrt SEs it should be opt out, via robots.txt. I don't agree with it being opt in. I also don't understand how showing a cache of a page harms a business, the links still work, a user can still purchase if they like, and they still see your paid for on site adverts. On this issue, what I've read - and I don't think I understand hence my opening question - I fall on the side of Google. And that's me done on this, anyone that can answer my first question and help me understand just a little bit more can have 1,000 friendly webmaster support points :-)
My solution ( if google listens to it and implements it ) is a simple suggestion.
Google should introduce a small file ( something which must get manually downloaded from google site after an "I AGREE" stuff. This file, once found in a site root or folder, should tell google's spider to index anything in that domain.
Absence of such a file should tell google that this site does not want itself to be indexed.
Why not 'robots.txt' file? because its something thats too open. It should be a Google file.
Similar strategies should be taken up by other search engines also ..
What do you all think?
I think it's a bad idea. Google is not special. It just has market power for the moment. The solution has to be generalized like robots.txt so that it can be applied to whatever indexing spider comes along. It should have the ability to be generalized as in all spiders allowed or no spiders allowed and it should also have the ability to be customized. robots.txt is fine for that.
I really hope Google wins, because I think a lot of important information sites by hobbyists and educational institutions which don't use robots.txt will disappear and their owners will not know why they disappeared. A lot of good content is created by less than savvy webmasters.
The web is not like other mediums. If the French newspaper wants out, it only takes 1 line of code. Personally, I think Google should give them the permanent boot.
Google News is taking one of those pageviews
Google News is taking one of those pageviews
Heh -- well, all I know is that I never visited the web pages of Channel News Asia, or AllAfrica.com, or The Times of India, or [long list of more obscure news sources] before I started using Google News. So, there's some folks getting some traffic they were sure never gonna get before. Whether they want my traffic or not, I dunno.
They want your money, or to link some one to you who wants your money. It is not happening. I have a small news paper with a website and all I can see it do is damage subscriptions and news stand sales. My competitor has a more extensive web site. I have to read their paper to keep up with them, but I'm seriously thinking about canceling the subscription because, gee, it's all on the web and easier and faster to scan. But, of course, the ad department wants to see the ads ;-)
I believe the thumbnails as they are often used by Google News go beyond fair use. They are used to make the page more attractive, as design elements. The people who do that work deserve to be paid, because that is why they are making those images.
First there was the French created controversy over the announcement by Google "to put books from some of the world's great libraries on the Internet."
Then, French Adsense publishers threatened to boycott Google. [webmasterworld.com...]
Google loses an appeal in French courts. [webmasterworld.com...]
Now, AFP is gunning for them.
I've never seen a country act this belligerent towards a company before. And I certainly don't see any other country going after Google as hard as France is.
Looks like there is more going on here then meets the eye.
I'm confused how Google has managed to spider content that is supposedly protected by a subscription service
Isn't AFP a news service? So Google would be picking up its content from sites NOT owned by AFP -- sites that paid to use the content (and which probably don't mind being included in Google's news section).
I don't think AFP should be able to stop people from linking to the articles or using the headlines. A news service should understand that this is how the Internet works. The photos are another issue -- they really are losing value if people can see them on Google's site and Google isn't paying for them. Whereas with a news link, you still have to click to read the whole article, and that means going to the site that paid to use the content (content that has negative value to the sites that bought it if AFP then bans those sites from Google).
(Added: On the other hand, I haven't noticed a lot of full-sized images in Google's news section, so you still have to click through to the originating site to see the whole thing.)
It's public. If you publish something on the internet then you're publishing it to the public. If you don't want it to be public then publish it on your INTRAnet, not the internet.
Protection from out right rip offs of intellectual property are of course necessary but it should stop there.
I won't go into all of the (obvious) ways in which the internet will change for the worse if enough of these types of lawsuits succeed. The amazing (read scary) thing is that so many people are somehow missing this?