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Google Decides to Remove Text Snippets and Thumbnail Images of Some German Newspapers Because of Legal Action

     
9:34 am on Oct 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Following legal action in Germany, Google decides to remove text "snippets" and thumbnail previews of images of selected German newspapers, including bild.de, bunte.de or hoerzu.de, from VG Media. Google is only going to show a link to the article and its headline.



[google-produkte.blogspot.de...]
12:57 pm on Oct 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The publishers could surely have accomplished this using "nosnippet" tags and robots.txt directives.

I wonder how they intend to deal with Bing, Yahoo, Ask and all the other robotic crawlers.

...
1:48 pm on Oct 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps it would be easier if search engines wrote bots that respected the law?

Its still a crime for somebody to burgle my house if I leave the door unlocked.
2:23 pm on Oct 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps it would be easier if search engines wrote bots that respected the law?


That's what Google just did.

The law is newer than the Google News bot.
3:13 pm on Oct 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps it would be easier if search engines wrote bots that respected the law?

Like many here, I would certainly have preferred bot activity to be opt-in rather than opt-out.

But in jurisdictions with a "fair use" doctrine (which dates back to 1740) I see no disrespect for the law.

And the irony is that this move may adversely affect the publishers' bottom line.

...
4:01 pm on Oct 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The publishers had all the technical capabilities to manage what Google did or didn't display with nosnippet, nocache, noindex, notraffic, noproblem!

I think the best thing Google could do is just not index them whatsoever and when their traffic goes down the toilet as alternative sources jump in and make a land grab for those rankings, they'd come back BEGGING Google to display snippets and ask for the law to be changed.

Remove them from the index would be my vote.

Likewise, anyone those newspapers link to should get a nice DISAVOW from the sites they link.

That would make for some interesting news, but of course we'd never read it because it wouldn't be indexed LOL
5:45 pm on Oct 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I agree with incrediBILL.

If I were Google I would have deindexed the entire site for all such sites who are bitching and filing lawsuits claiming copyright infringement over SERP snippets.

The news sites want to have their cake and eat it too. Next they will be demanding free placements in AdWords.
9:39 pm on Oct 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Remove them from the index would be my vote.

that would be quite a stupid move by google. the respective news publishers are organized in an association that has lobbied for this intellectual property right ("leistungsschutzrecht"). it essentially now prohibits the use of common snippets from news articles without asking (aka paying which is indeed what they want) and only allows "tiniest text excerpts".

of course the new law is idiotic and totally counterproductive for those publishing houses as search engines and aggregators will not pay for sending them traffic.

but google does it right: ask the respective publishers the required permission if they can still use text snippets without pay - if not: obide the law and only show smallest parts that are allowed. no need to overreact and bring authorities on the scene, provoking further legislation or possible allegations for abuse of market power or whatever. instead, let the press beg to get the former conditions back.
4:06 am on Oct 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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that would be quite a stupid move by google. the respective news publishers are organized in an association that has lobbied for this intellectual property right ("leistungsschutzrecht"). it essentially now prohibits the use of common snippets from news articles without asking (aka paying which is indeed what they want) and only allows "tiniest text excerpts".


I beg to differ.

If you cut the complainers out of Google someone will eventually cave under the pressure from their shareholders or owners and step up and ask for reinstatement on Google's terms.

However, on the flip side being the devil's advocate, it the newspapers could get Google to actually pay for snippets we'd all start demanding payment and Google would have a hard time saying no as then it becomes discriminatory and MORE lawsuits which is why I think they should just dump them.

If those newspapers want publicity, they can use AdWords and pay through the nose for what they used to get for free, just like the rest of us ;)
8:42 am on Oct 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Surely, if Google is still organizing the World's information it needs to encompass all.
Of course, it is also true that users can control, to an extent, what is found and what is not.

The principle at stake here is the local law.

But I do agree, it would be in the publisher's interest to remain available to searchers, which, in turn, send them traffic.

The problem really lies with the amount of data shown in the snippet.
11:20 am on Oct 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The problem really lies with the amount of data shown in the snippet.

Indeed.

When I look at Google's news SERPs, the snippet usually consists of fewer than 25 words (often less than a complete sentence) with an accompanying 72 pixel square thumbnail.

This gives away very little, encourages a clickthrough, and should be welcomed in my opinion.

The late unlamented Google Web Preview was another matter, however - it gave away a lot of text and much larger images, and like many others I blocked it from day one as I did not consider it fair use.

As the article linked to above is in German it is unclear what the details of the case were, but my understanding is that Google's Web Preview was discontinued ages ago, while Bing's still exists.

Perhaps the publishers just wanted to create a legal precedent.

But it is surely not a Google-specific issue.

...
3:19 pm on Oct 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Accepting bets for "How many days before this german publisher group:
a) shout out loud "we're being discriminated"
b) reverse this decision"

Yet, this could be a ground floor for something else, which we don't know by now, part of some kind of bigger strategy.
The Belgian did it before and it all ended well - for Google that is. Why would germans do exactly the same thing? They already know the results (should - they're reporters!).

To my knowledge germans usually don't have a lack of common sense (let's not give Godwin a chance) - there's something more/else to it. Time will tell.
7:29 pm on Oct 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Europe's cultural attitude toward "near monopolies" is pretty aggressive.

Google knows this, and so, they deal with it.

Microsoft ended up with Ä860 million in EU imposed fines trying to fight it.
7:38 pm on Oct 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Following legal action in Germany, Google decides to remove text "snippets" and thumbnail previews of images of selected German newspapers

what happens if the papers find that nothing much changes... that they weren't getting much traffic benefit from having their snippets and pictures included in google news. once that gets out then everyone might follow suit.
7:58 pm on Oct 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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what happens if the papers find that nothing much changes... that they weren't getting much traffic benefit from having their snippets and pictures included in google news. once that gets out then everyone might follow suit.


That's a big "what if."

A more interesting question for me is why so much attention is being focused on Google News while so little is being paid to aggregators like The Huffington Post, which relies heavily on (and profits directly from) rewritten summaries of newspaper and magazine articles. Common sense suggests that a person who's just read a 200-word digest of a Frankfurter Allgemeine story on Huffingtonpost.de is less likely to read the original article than someone who's merely seen a headline and 25-word snippet on Google News.
5:59 am on Oct 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@Editorialguy, its harder to attack someone who rewrites the story as there is no copyright on facts. Newspapers do not want to go down that road either as a lot of their own content is rewrites.
6:10 am on Oct 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hello,

I read many replays of you such as "Google should just dump them and they will come back".

I read that and I am terrifying. Non of company, not even Google should have an impact to destroy other businesses.

I finds it good that Goverments (in EU) tries something to stop Google. Google News have snippets but what if in few years this law was not there and Google would decided to publish more text and pictures? This all seems not realistic but look at SERPs, nowdays you do not need to visit specific site because you get everything from "knowledge vault".
7:47 am on Oct 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've given some further thinking to this.

Maybe the purpose of this is *exactly* to lose lots of traffic.
That way, they can say that Google has a "real" monopoly... and, as consequence either it gets split, it gets eliminated or, they get "their" money as they proved it isn't possible to survive without Google.

It's a stretched theory but...
8:51 am on Oct 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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A more interesting question for me is why so much attention is being focused on Google News while so little is being paid to aggregators like The Huffington Post


Perhaps because Google has a worldwide monopoly. It canít be said of The Huffington Post or any other newspaper...

Google News have snippets but what if in few years this law was not there and Google would decided to publish more text and pictures?


I'll do it if I were Google, and sooner rather than later...
3:00 pm on Oct 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'll do it if I were Google, and sooner rather than later...

Google Web Preview existed from November 2010 to April 2013 (when it was discontinued).

It evaded robots.txt restrictions to display substantial text and large images.

Publishers who did not consider this "fair use" blocked it.

Google has a worldwide monopoly

The term "worldwide" necessarily includes China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

Baidu, Yandex, Naver and Yahoo dominate in those countries.

...
5:17 pm on Oct 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Maybe the purpose of this is *exactly* to lose lots of traffic. That way, they can say that Google has a "real" monopoly...


Google certainly doesn't have a monopoly on news in Germany. According to the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers, "In 11 regional associations there are 298 newspapers with a total circulation of 16,5 million copies sold, as well as 13 weekly newspapers with approximately 1 million issues sold."

There's been plenty of discussion about media monopolies in Germany, driven mostly by the fact that a handful of publishers control so much of the German newspaper and magazine business along with German commercial television. If anything, search engines like Google News are helping to weaken the influence of megapublishers like the Springer and Bertelsmann groups by giving consumers more choices. It's no wonder that the big German publishers are fighting back.
8:26 pm on Oct 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Google certainly doesn't have a monopoly on news in Germany.

I would guess that the newspapers' argument is that Google has a monopoly on search, and if they expose the "sotry spoiler" on the search page snippet, it diminishes click-thrus.

That seems like a reasonable assumption to me.

I suppose that the counter-argument is that users can navigate directly to the newspaper site. Well, G has that covered as well. Chrome pops auto-suggest in the url bar, both on desktop and mobile. And the auto-suggest entries are not just sites you've visited previously.

They are finding more ways to insert themselves between potential customers and businesses. I'm not surprised that some businesses are pushing back.