Google vs. Publishers: Who’s Right?

    November 2, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

The story is old, but it is ongoing. It’s the same argument that’s been around for years, but it’s reaching a boiling point, and it’s doing so at a time when the flow of news is coming from more directions than it ever has before. Hurricane Sandy is just the latest in a long line of examples proving that point. Publishers want Google to pay them for the right to point to their content, and Google does not wish to do so.

Should Google have to pay to link to content in Google News? Tell us what you think.

The battle continues in Europe. This week, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt met with French President François Hollande, who according to a report from Bloomberg BusinessWeek (in an article that I did not find by using Google News), “demanded Google reach a deal with publishers”.

Google responded to the French point of view even before Schmidt’s meeting. Here’s what the company said in a blog post a couple weeks ago:

The web has led to an explosion of content creation, by both professional and citizen journalists. So it’s not a secret that we think a law like the one proposed in France and Germany would be very damaging to the internet. We have said so publicly for three years.

Google’s point about the “explosion of content creation” is very valid. Google has been pretty consistent in that it will not pay publishers to link to their content in search results. The question is whether Google users will noticeably suffer if Google stops including content from certain publishers.

This is currently being put to the test in Brazil, where 90% of the country’s newspaper circulation has pulled its content out of Google News. The publishers seem to be getting by fine without Google News (they haven’t pulled out of Google Web Search). The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas reported that these publishers have only seen a decrease in web traffic of 5%. Isabela Fraga and Natalia Mazotte report:

“The (newspapers) themselves believed that the 5-percent loss was a price worth paying to defend our authors’ rights and our brands,” said Ricardo Pedreira, ANJ’s executive director in a phone interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

“The fact is, Google News is absolutely irrelevant in Brazil,” said Carlos Müller, ANJ’s communications advisor. “If you go into Google News now and search for (Brazil’s) President Dilma, you’re going to see that none of the websites of the main newspapers in the country are there.”

“It’s important to point out,” he added, “that the portals of some news companies are still (in Google News).”

That doesn’t mean, however that publications everywhere could get by as well without Google News. The Bloomberg article quotes Ricardo Pedreira, executive director of Brazil’s National Association of Newspapers, as saying, “Every country has a specific reality, and I think there will probably evolve different models in each nation.”

Google is already facing turbulence in Germany and Italy, in addition to France, so we may very well see publications pulling out of Google News in these countries as Google refuses to pay. Google has made the point in the past, that without said publications, users would be able to find information from other sources.

In September, Google revealed that Google News is currently available in 72 editions in 30 languages, and counts 50,000 publications among its news sources.

“Linking to a diverse set of sources for any given story enabled readers to easily access different perspectives and genres of content,” Google said recounting the product’s history. “By featuring opposing viewpoints in the same display block, people were encouraged to hear arguments on both sides of an issue and gain a more balanced perspective.”

If publishers pull out, they face having their viewpoint lost from users’ view. However, that certainly does not mean that they will not be able to reach audiences via different means, thanks in some part to that explosion of content Google refers to.

Social media has rapidly emerged as a major source of news consumption in recent years. People don’t have to rely on Google News (or search in general) as much as they might have in the past. People have news driven to them via Facebook, Twitter, and numerous other channels all day, every day, right to the phones in their pockets.

In a recent article, I made the case that Google is even risking pushing more news seekers to Twitter specifically thanks to its lack of real time search. Twitter is the place to go if you want to find up to the second updates about anything, like say, a hurricane.

While Google has certainly offered some valuable resources related to Hurricane Sandy, it wasn’t Google that all of the journalism articles were talking about over the past week, with regards to how the news was coming out. There was a lot more talk about Twitter and Instagram (pictures from which were often surfaced via Twitter).

Sure, Google News has continued to serve its general purpose, but the news, as it often does, was breaking on Twitter. Google’s right. There’s an explosion of content, and that’s not going to change. People will find ways to get their news with or without publications in Google News (many of these same publications will be easily found via social media).

So who needs who more? Google or publishers? Google will want to make sure it has enough quality sources in its results, but it is unlikely that they will have to pay many publishers to do so, because thousands simply want to be discoverable in Google, and are happy to be there without demanding fees. Google does have an agreement with the AP for hosted content, and it’s possible that Google could look to plug any potential holes with similar arrangements, but it’s unlikely that Google will submit to such deals with a sizable number of publications. They simply don’t need all of that content that badly. Do they?

Well, I would say no they don’t, to be a useful service. Readers can get by without a lot of the sources currently in Google News. But, on the other hand, losing a significant amount of publications would also be a continued failure at Google’s mission, which is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible. It seems that this mission is not worth paying publishers as far as Google is concerned.

What would you do if Google News lost 90% of newspaper publications in your country? Would you miss them? How would you consume your news? How do you consume it now? Let us know in the comments.

  • Jack N Fran Farrell

    Snippets are fair use.

  • macheese

    What do I think? I think if you get your ‘news’ from Twitter, you’re an idiot.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      Which publications are you reading that don’t have Twitter accounts?

  • http://www.digitalfocus.co.uk John Snowden

    I personally think that the way Google treats its client is disgusting, forever changing the rules and algorithms, do they know the damage they do to a company, do they care?
    It is about time Google remembered that they are there because the world wants them to be at the moment, if the customer is no longer interested in Google’s off the wall shenanagins then Google will find its own business is going down the tubes as so many have through Google’s manipulations.

  • Dell Douglas

    Google News? Didn’t know about it (sarcasm).

    Are they in the headlines again or just never going to get out of the headlines?

    Google… Shmoogle… Another Ma Bell from years past. Bigger isn’t always better and it’s time for G to get knocked down off their high horse.

    DuckDuckGo.com is the Google of years past and doing a great job.

    Google was great back when they first started out. Granted they’re wanting to expand upon and put all of this great technology to use, but they’ve lost site of who made them the #1 SE in the first place.

  • http://www.jumbocdinvestments.com/iracdrates.htm ChrisCD

    Google does not have any of its own content. It makes money by providing free snipes of our content and places ads next to it. Maybe people should just start blocking Google entirely. As Google’s results become less and less relevant, people will move to other SEs that aren’t as greedy.

    It would also be a good lesson for any other SE that believes they can treat their content providers like crud.

    When Google provides good traffic and that traffic generates revenue it is a good symbiotic relationship, but now that less and less of our content is even being show, the relationship sours. Google has crossed a threshold and people are starting to figure that out.

  • http://animium.com 3D Models

    Certainly there is a point from publishers, google doesnt have any content, basically it places few lines from each site for the search query and places the Ads. So google is making money from our content. why dont google pay the publishers who were the real brain behind the content. Moreover the results are not in realtime, somtimes google takes hours sometimes days to reflect the new content published.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      Should Google pay all sites that are in its index then?

  • http://KeithJamesDesigns.com Keith James

    So do they only want Google to not index them? That wouldn’t seem fair. Do they want Google to pay them to index their site? I’m sure they know to simply use a robot.txt file.

  • Tag A. Long

    > Google’s mission, which is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.

    should read:

    Google’s mission, which is to organize the world’s information and put an ad overlay on top of it.

    Google is really fishing for regulation here that benefits them, let’s say they pretend to fail at negotiations resulting in all search properties mandated to pay a fee to publishers; game over for other engines that don’t have the deep pockets needed to enter the space. Mission accomplished.

    • Mike Hunt

      This is the most lucid comment yet. Bravo!

      • Tag A. Long

        Regulation can only benefit google and if you follow Schmidt you’ll realize he is a crony capitalist, he knows how to use government to further his agenda. Do you think he is running afoul of every privacy regulation on the planet in order to avoid regulation? Of course not, he is negotiating for regulation that locks him into a dominant position. Check out the latest FTC commissioner appointment, he couldn’t have hand picked a more friendly “regulator”.

  • http://www.webpronews.com/author/rich-ord Rich Ord

    If publications could vote on this they would vote 99 percent for Google to continue to include them in Google News and Google Search. After all, Google is providing free traffic!

  • Guy

    I personally think what any website who want to be indexed by google must add their sitemap to google webmasters tools. But indexing by default must be prohibited for all search engines. It will lead to less spam, private content not will indexed, such problems for google will fixed, such troubles for peoples will fixed (lot of peoples lost workjob because google show their post history if search by nickname or email).

    Also after new google pets, content is not matter anything right now. Also google giving out 90% of visitors to own wikipedia, youtube, brand websites (who often just reprint original sources and cheating with content in same as black hat spammers, because their high google trust rank allow to do it). In this situation it may be correct decision to get rid of google completely (and disallow google to index any own content, including own articles/or reprints).

    Google getting that problem because their own actions, this jaring and jolting updates, etc. So I think it good idea. I love _old_ google, but their new model (quick bucks and get rid of small/medium webmasters) is totally wrong.

  • http://richinwriters.com Steven

    France and the french government are a bunch of socialists that want to control everything. Google owns Google the French and German governments don’t own Google. Is Google perfect ofcourse not what company is? Google shouldn’t be forced to change their business because some socialist European countries want to control what people see or read. Tell France and Germany I said go and create their own search engine or just ban Google in their country. I HATE SOCIALISTS all they want to do is control everybodies thoughts and actions. This is not an issue of whether Google is right or wrong this is an issue of Google having a right to operate their business the way they see fit.

  • http://theakurians.com Colonel Robert F. Cunningham

    Copyrighted content is one thing, PUBLIC OPINION is another. News media have used each other’s sources for decades … UP (United Press, now United Press International), AP (Associated Press), et cetera, are news gathering and distribution services that did NOT print publications but delivered usable content – FOR A FEE – generally known as “wire” as in telegraph – services.

    If one were to use a copyrighted CBS report, they should PAY for it as it cost CBS to collect, edit, and distribute … If one writes a letter … to the editor or general populace it is and should be Public Domain for most intents and purposes.

    Even so, the SOCIALISTS will make as big a deal and as jackassed situation out of this dung bubble as possible. They are great at straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel …

    Colonel Robert F. Cunningham,

  • http://booksandhealth.com kc

    Interesting….Google demands retailers to pay to be included in their search results but Google refuses to pay a business that demands payment. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander so to speak… What will be the price that Google pays for their Greed?

    • Hugo

      Advertisers pay to have their content ranked high in searches – otherwise the content gets ranked where it deserves, and as it is usually pretty poor, it would rank pretty low.
      Meanwhile Google uses the same algorithms to rank its own content as it ranks other content. Show me another company that is so scrupulous?
      What would Apple do in their app store? The app store specifically permits Apple to reject or remove apps that compete with Apple products, and even that compete with products that Apple plans to release.
      Google comes out pretty good, if you look at the facts (of course if you only listen to partisan comments you might get a different impression)

  • http://bryansiegel.com Bryan Siegel

    If this passes the evil in me sees a business opportunity. If Google doesn’t pay (which they can’t it would leave them wide open for other markets to take the same action eventually leading up to lawsuits with their main cash cow which is search) all you need to do is rewrite the content from the sites that got the boot and include yours into Google news. It would be a great place to be with less competition not to mention Universal results also show within organic results. But that’s just the evil in me. I’m not going to knock France or anything but trying to save a dyeing industry because they won’t innovate and evolve by charging Google isn’t the answer. If websites charged Google to be within their organic index then it wouldn’t make financial sense to run Google. I don’t think any search engine in their right mind would pay to link to news. It’s just not financially possible unless Google charged people for the number of searches they made, but that would tear the very fabric of the internet.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    In the U.S. the term “Professional Journalist” no longer applies or exists in the Main Stream Media, rather “Professional Stenographer” more aptly describes these hacks of this relatively new Communist Cabal.

  • http://www.enviroequipment.com Enviro Equipment Inc.

    Don’t see what the big deal is with publishers not having their information in Google News. It’s not like Google is the only search engine out there and so long as people know that Google News is not the end-all and be-all of news sources, let the publishers opt out if they so choose.

    Of course, if other search engine’s news feeds started to become more popular, then I’m sure many publishers would opt out of them as well. If that happened, then I would think that publishers would be cutting off their nose to spite their face.

  • Jan

    Desperate times call for desperate measures. France is just demonstrating how desperate it is. They’d do anything to get money in state coffers, because their overburdened socialist system is on the verge of collapse. Socialist never look at how to cut expenses, they only look at how to get more money to cover their expenses. But this time, they’re out of luck. The general population is already overtaxed to a breaking point (most people are taxed at least 50% and the French invisible sales tax is almost 20%), the rich are leaving because salaries above 125 000 Euros are to be taxed at 75% (Hollande calls this the “patriotic duty” tax) and state companies are laying people off because they are not competitive enough (mostly due to labor unions). In such an environment, what else can the French government tax? Foreign corporations, of course. The future of France does not look good.

    Ayn Rand must be chuckling in her grave. Poor soul, rest in peace! She has warned them all, half a century ago. 😉

    Being Google, I would get out of France just like thy did in China. And not pay, of course.

  • http://www.hawkeyeservices.com Don

    The essential, necessary, central, and probably the only point, one missed by millions, it this. When you write anything, create something in writing, you own it. YOU OWN IT (yeah, caps, it’s that important). I’m not talking about email, but about serious content, whether it is a news story or commentary or an article, etc., as long as you aren’t writing it as an employee of an organization (in that case, they own it), then you own it. It costs money to create any content of any value, such as an article. When you create it you own it and are protected by copyright law. You own the copyright, or right to copy, or publish it, or sell it. It is not available for free because it is on the web. Whether writing or a song or an image, you can’t just take it, because someone owns that, and actually that is theft. I had a lot of stock in Google. I’ve sold it all. I am distancing myself. They think they can do anything they want, and they have a lot of power and they are beginning to throw it around. So, beware. Off my soapbox. My two cents.

  • David

    They should have to pay

  • http://tagvillage.com MarkRogers

    Publishers should be getting onboard here – actually it’s for anyone who wants to help themselves & others.

  • http://www.spinneyweb.com david spinney

    I have never heard of google news until this article, and I spend mor ethat 14 hours a day, every day online. FFor news I go to http://www.bbc.co.uk or cnn.com, I occasionaly follow a link to another site and have ended up on yahoo news, microssoft news and the daily mail, but never google.

    Google makes enough off the backs of other peoples work, if they want to publish a news portal they should either produce their own content – something they preach to webmasters all the time, or if they are going to use other peoples work they should pay for it.

    To me it sounds like the French, Italians, Brazilians and Germans press are doing the right thing by pulling their content from google.

  • http://www.tristateintermodalinc.com Dean

    If Google wanted to play hardball, they would not index those sites that are demanding payment in the search results as well. In the end, I think it comes down to being just like any other copyright issue. A link and a snippet are not an infringement, but publishing an entire article certainly is. Google isn’t the only one publishing snippets and links.

    • http://Wredlich.com Warren Redlich

      Amen. Google should deindex them. Beautiful!

  • http://www.jayseducation.com Hana Jay

    I think Google need not pay publishers to point to their work. However users should pay for using that work. It is up to the publisher to display what they want to in the way they wish, as to their own benefit as they see fit.
    We are publishers (very small)and happy for Google to point to us.
    We always bear in mind that people will copy never mind what.
    Signed Tom for Hana.

  • gh@itapps.com.au

    If I were a publisher, I’d be delighted to be referenced by Google. It’s a strong acknowlegment of the value of that publisher’s content, plus it’s the best *free* backlink you could hope for to improve your organic search ranking. So publishers, take the greedy dollar signs out of your eyes and consider the advertising and promotional value you are getting for free. And no, I have no affiliation with Goggle whatsoever.

  • gh@itapps.com.au

    Take this debate somewhere else! You’ve gone totally off topic here.

  • Hugo

    It’s a free world. Most readers probably come from Google search – and that’s simply ignorance of Google News and what it can do. So there’s no need for Google to pay for content because readers aren’t reading it on Google News.
    For the remaining 5% who are using Google News, it’s a good question of who needs who more. I personally think that publishers and authors have more to lose by not being featured, than Google does by losing one of its 20,000 sources. Basically, Google is free advertising!
    What would make me change my mind? I’d be worried by any sort of strong arm tactics. If Google were to suggest that they might not index in general search (and Google hasn’t done this, but one comment does), then I would be concerned.

  • errol

    Lived well befote. Will survive without

  • http://Mabuzi.com Kevin

    If its paid subscription content well then yes but if its free information then no. If the page gets indexed why not
    I cant recall ever using Google news though.

  • Carlynn Paskarbis

    They should be paying google for giving them air time and structuring the search capabilities of the audience. If they want money, they can charge for entering their site. Then the consumer can decide, if the information is worth footing the bill or not. Google reinvented the dewey decimal system for these people. Otherwise their input would drown in a barrage of information overlad no one would ever be able to sift through. And google does all that at no charge.

  • http://gingermudd.com Ginger Mudd

    Moot quesiton. I don’t even use Google to find news. Too many other good news feeders.

    • http://www.theanaloguerevolution.com Pete

      Will those news feeders be forced to pay?

  • http://ephedrinewheretobuy.com Mike Budd

    Come on, don’t be naive: it’s all about money.

    Let’s take the case of France because of this meeting with French President Francois Hollande. Google is charging French advertisers via Ireland for fiscal reasons: the corporate tax rate is only 12.5 percent there.
    French people are buying goods and services in France to French companies who pay Google for ads or who have their content being used by Google to charge other companies. Would you think that this is a French taxable business? No, Google is doing all efforts to deny a permanent establishment in France, they have a French subsidiary whose main goal is to declare peanuts to the French tax administration and to route profits to other Google companies in countries that have less taxes: fiscal optimization.

    Why do you think Google’s chief executive Eric Schmidt has met French President Francois Hollande? Because Google has received a 1 billion euro tax claim from the French authorities and they don’t want to pay. Mr. Hollande made it very clear: France would legislate to force Google to pay unless Google finds a deal with the French companies.

    Last figures: Google had a tax bill equal to 43 percent of income in the USA and only 3.2 percent on non-U.S. income!
    And here are the income figures: $4.7 billion in the USA and $7.6 billion in the rest of the world.

    Do you think that Europe in crisis will accept forever that European citizens and companies are contributing to Google’s huge profits without Google being taxed in Europe?

    Cheers, Mike

  • http://www.theanaloguerevolution.com Pete

    They just need to put nofollow links all over thier site and Gogole won’t index it, they thier news won’t be ‘stolen’ by Google and they have no problem. Apart from when they realise 90% of their traffic (which they make money on) comes from Google and now they have no customers/visitors

  • http://www.mentalhealthy.co.uk Charlotte Fantelli

    Come on pay to use news? I applied to be a news source because it increased my traffic 60% over night! As a publisher you want your news read and your site clicked on so you can sell your content/ad space or products. Google is doing anyone a massive favour by promoting their site for free!

  • http://www.cobwebseo.com/ Ajay Jhunjhunwala

    No google should not pay to those publishers. Google is working for sake of common people. Through google many news or publishers are getting new visitors from all around the Globbe.

  • http://www.spokanelawncompany.com Lawn Care

    If you can read the news without going to the publishers site, they are losing out. Their revenue systems aren’t being utilized, and eventually will be pulled. I get my news and search from Bing anyways.

  • http://manilacomputerrepairshop.com Computer Repair

    Google is right, they should not allow that. all information should be free one way or the other.

    Content of the publisher if they wish to make profit from the web, they must rethink profit model and paradigm.

  • //n/a...lol radford

    I’ve got “news” for the publishers; wecome to the era of the Internet !!
    Information is not owned by the networks … WE own our own events, ads, etc.
    The Internet is “us” … not Fox News, CBS, The XXX Times, et al !
    In the words of the famous storeclerk : “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!” -Harry Truman

  • http://www.stanleyoppenheimer.com searchengineman

    I think Mike has hit the nail on the head.

    The whole free speech thing is just a front.
    It’s about the money. (Taxes)

    Wow Ireland is a tax haven? (Sarcasm) Of course Google will
    set up shop there!

    I remember the acronymn PIGS, which was used to describe
    the countries that have set off the financial meltdown in Europe.


    All the countries that have ridiculous, fiscal chaos.
    Well what do you expect. When corporates don’t have to pay.
    No revenue stream for that Nation, compounded by super socialist government policies..until it implodes 2008. If Google paid it’s taxes in France, this would not even be an issue.

    Now that it’s become a cultural issue (French Culture). France is not going to back down. It’s a Mexican standoff.


  • http://Wredlich.com Warren Redlich

    I don’t understand the publishers’ position. Can’t they use Robots.txt and noindex to prevent searching?

    Why is social media ok if Google isn’t?

    It makes no sense. Google delivers traffic to their sites. People pay for that. How are they harmed?

  • http://www.trabalhocomsucesso.com Antonio Rocha

    I think Google should worry about blocking the builders of pyramids, websites of companies or individuals that do not comply with their obligations to sell and deliver the product and or things like that.

    With a simple housecleaning along those lines already raises the support, respect and trust that many in the globe does not find on the internet.
    Encyclopedia of scoundrels site owners will invest more because it will realize significant return. Is what is lacking today!

  • Max McByte

    If Google has to pay to provide links to newpapers that publish content then I think it fair that the newspapers pay the people who provided the content in the first place.

    Have a nice apoplectic moment…

  • http://homejobtip.blogspot.in/ jai

    I believe whatever happened thats for good . forgive ness is best policy .

  • yeah right

    i found this hard to follow , your post title implies something else, and your flow is off i dont even know how you got my email, but it ended in spam and now i can see why

  • Guy

    i think every website must go this way. google is money cow now and cares only about money. Also it give lot of stress, depression, destroying small business, etc. So it need to pay to publishers and webmasters by $$$ or by guaranteed traffic, otherwise we will disallow googlebot and will orientate to bingbot to live in peace and continue to create great content.

  • http://mlmsecrets Karrie Klingner

    Please do not stop your great post. I will continue to read all of your post.