French and German newspapers decide they don't want the Google Juice [Rant]

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French and German newspapers (those represented by the Belgian press association Copiepresse ) have obviously decided that they don’t need or want any help from the world’s largest search engine in bringing them visitors, and as such they’ve filed a rather skewed complaint with the courts that, if Google don’t take down their stories (they already have) they’ll fine them something like €1m per day.

They object to snippets of news appearing on the Google site after they’ve been taken down from the newspaper’s web site. They also object because they say Google is making money from these snippets. Well, if they are, it’s indirect money (perhaps they’re confusing Google with splogs?) because there is NO advertising on the Google News pages. In addition, the Google News Archives service which recently launched only carries a small section of papers who’ve agreed to syndicate their content.

It all sounds very stupid to me. If these newspapers don’t want to be indexed by Google, it’s very easy to tell Google not to index them. But then, they probably like some of the links they get from Google, but just on their terms. Well, sorry, you can’t really have it both ways.

Now, OK, I believe that there are some Belgian laws about databanks that I’ll be honest I don’t really understand. But…

If you provide a way for people to syndicate your content, they’ll do that. Splogs do it in a way that shows no regard for the original owners, and with the sole purpose of making money from other people’s work. Google do it (presumably) to make a cross-section of news sources available worldwide, where visitors then visit the original site (where there is advertising and revenue can be gained by the publisher) if they want to read more.

For many sites, there’s a huge advantage to making your information available to a global audience. If you’re not interested in doing that, you should set your web server up to deny traffic from anyone outside your geographical area. Or just set up your systems properly in the first place.

Maybe these newspapers want to die in a pile of dead wood and not embrace the Internet age? It’s not much hardship to Google – plenty of other places to get the news from.

Shortsighted old media? Of course they have a right to say how their information can be distributed, but this sounds like a poor excuse to try and make money from a global giant because a few tinpot newspapers have decided they don’t like being indexed.

Disclaimer: Given that this was a rant, I’ve not done a huge amount of investigation, and I’m sure there are very good and logical reasons for this ruling – but I still think it’s stupid.

What do you think?

Andy Merrett