Google Gives In To UK News Organizations

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America, France, Belgium . . . these are the countries in which some news services have received payment in return for having their content carried by Google News, and now the UK has reportedly joined the gang.  But don’t tell anyone – the arrangement is supposedly being kept quiet so that other organizations don’t request the same deal.

It’s for this reason that nobody knows which UK news groups are involved (the previous arrangements involved the Associated Press, Agent France-Presse, and Copiepress).  Yet the Sunday Herald’s Steven Vass, who broke the story, writes, “it looks likely that [Google] has bowed to pressure from news groups.”

Vass also reported the history of Google News, which “had long maintained that it was not in breach of copyright rules because it carries only the headline and the opening couple of sentences from each story in its service.”  And, aside from not breaking any laws, Google News “was benefiting news groups by directing traffic to their websites.”

It seems that the search engine corporation abandoned those arguments, however, at least in its dealings with those “several large UK news groups.”  This may, as the alleged reason for the deal’s secrecy implies, lead to other organizations demanding the same payment.  They might even demand the same payment from other news sites.

Techdirt’s Mike Masnick noted a “really sinister explanation” behind this possibility, writing, “[S]ome are suggesting for this is that Google knows that it can afford to pay off these newspapers – while not many other sites can.  So, effectively, Google may be paying off these newspapers not because of real legal threats, but because it knows that the legal threats will be pointed instead to other competitive services who are less able to weather such legal challenges.”

Assuming that a deal between Google News and some UK news organizations did indeed take place, and if we’re to believe that the theory Masnick relayed is correct, well . . . Machiavelli, eat your heart out.

Google Gives In To UK News Organizations
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