Google's search VP Ben Gomes: Don't make us pay publishers for Google News snippets. It's bad for them and bad for the Net. Better to make money through AdSense, he suggests, no doubt irritating the very publishers he hopes to mollify.
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- I agree that the publishers are being stupid, Ben Gomes is absolutely right. The fact is those snippets are pieces of information that they display publicly and allow Google to crawl... And in many cases they use SEO techniques to make sure that Google gets the right snippet and right headline for the page in question. Google doesn't pay me to crawl my website, what makes news sites special? If I don't want Google crawling my website then I would use a robots.txt file to tell them to not do so.
The fact is these publishers sued Google several years ago hoping to get this sort of deal out of Google, and instead ended up with Google simply dropping their sites from the news results. They learned in that instance that having Google crawl your site is beneficial to getting people to actually go to your site. In turn, a few months later the same publishing groups sued Google to get included in Google news because their readership plummeted.
Instead of recognizing the valuable service Google is providing to them by indexing their site and referring readers (which translate to ad impressions), they have the gall to ask that they be paid for the favor that Google does for them. Their goal is to be included in Google's search, but not only that to force Google to pay for it. They can't go so far as to specify a robots.txt that forces Google not to index their sites because they know that Google provides a valuable service to them, and yet they want Google to pay them to give them a service.
All of this hypocrisy doesn't even begin to touch on the biggest hypocrisy of all, the depreciation of fair use that such a law would represent. Newspapers and journalists around the world rely on the fair use doctrine to summarize, synthesize, and share information in their journals. Fair use allows that published content can be used in a manner consistent with providing commentary, a means of indexing a source (in this case), or in sourcing material. What this law would entail would be a carve out in the fair use doctrine for publishers who post things on the web, suddenly the media of publication is no longer abstracted in the law and it muddies the waters for any new medium as well as for existing web-publications.
The problem with the old media is they still have no clue what to do with the web. They still believe that the way to go is direct ad sales, and not ad networks. They still believe that snippets on search engines are a substitute for the actual product rather than a means for a user to determine if it's actually a product they want. Instead of focusing on content quality and unifying their business strategies with those of already successful web startups, they're focused on protecting old business strategies. I strongly believe in the concept of innovation in markets through disruption. If some disruption isn't allowed, even if it's painful for the old guard, markets won't evolve and will become less free. Carve outs like this hurt technological evolution and media evolution.Dec 4, 2012