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French News Agency Sues Google News 441

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the media-watchdogs dept.
n1ywb writes "CNN and others are reporting that 'News agency Agence France Presse has sued Google Inc., alleging the Web search leader includes AFP's photos, news headlines and stories on its news site without permission. The French news service is seeking damages of at least $17.5 million and an order barring Google News from displaying AFP photographs, news headlines or story leads, according to the suit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.' This means they're suing in America this time, not France, which means Google might actually care if they lose."
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French News Agency Sues Google News

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  • by Tet (2721) <[slashdot] [at] [astradyne.co.uk]> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:25AM (#11984435) Homepage Journal
    Even if they're successful, AFP will be the losers here. Why can't people see that far from stealing their customers, Google drives visitors to their sites? By removing themselves from Google, all AFP will do is reduce their number of visitors, and hence the overall value of their site. This is particularly strange as AFP sells subscription based premium content, which isn't available to the masses anyway. Thus the only parts of the site that Google will be able to index are the loss leaders that they use to try and entice people to subscribe. As a business, I'd have thought you'd want that content to be made available to a wider audience at no extra cost to you...
    • Exactly they are shooting themselves in the foot. This is just like Apple suing their fan base, and other companies suing sites for deep linking - all of this merely reduces their fan base and reduces their advertisement dollars - they are the losers.
    • by ccady (569355) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:28AM (#11984460) Journal
      I'll play the devil's advocate: If you had a product, wouldn't you want to be able to control where it is advertised? Pretend you don't like Google, and think that it presents your product in a bad light (those tiny little images and all, right next to competitors' images.) Shouldn't you have a right to tell them to remove the ad?
      • I differ in opinion with you. Can a company force gamespot.com to down a negative review of their game? No. Can a company force cnn.com to not report bad news about them? No. It's freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
        • It will come down to that. Is Google news really a review? I don't think so--it is a small size picture and the first few lines of the article. There is no "review" content that is being generated. And the only reason Google is doing that is to drive traffic through the Google site.
          • And the number of ads (and hence the amount of income generated for that traffic) on the google news page is exactly what?

            (hint: it's about the same as the probability of Windows XP getting GPL'ed by the end of the year)
      • by Surazal (729) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:37AM (#11984518) Homepage Journal
        Fair use allows Google to do Google News in the first place. Sure, some people may *want* that control. That doesn't mean they automatically get it. Also, Google News does not have ads, check for yourself: yourself [google.com]

        It's that kind of thinking that got SCO in its current position. I honestly don't think AFP has a chance on this one. That's my personal opinion. :^)

        Disclaimer: I am not a blah blah blah...
        • by Stonehand (71085) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:45AM (#11984573) Homepage
          I'm not at all positive that fair use applies.

          It's not personal use; it's being redistributed to the whole world.

          It's not editorial use, because Google isn't writing -about- the articles.

          It's not educational use, because there's no broader educational context in which Google can claim to be using this for teaching or research purposes.

          And it's commercial, because they're using this to get viewers to access their other services which DO have advertising, as eyeballs are their business model.
          • I'm not at all positive that fair use applies.
            It's not personal use; it's being redistributed to the whole world.
            It's not editorial use, because Google isn't writing -about- the articles.
            It's not educational use, because there's no broader educational context in which Google can claim to be using this for teaching or research purposes.
            And it's commercial, because they're using this to get viewers to access their other services which DO have advertising, as eyeballs are their business model.

            If the facts ar
          • by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @01:43PM (#11985294) Journal
            It'd help if you'd actually use the guidelines specified for valuing if a work is covered under fair use.

            Quotes from US Code Title 17, 107:

            Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include

            So, right away Google seems cleared. But, lets make it more clear since something like blatant plagiarism of a whole news paper would likely not be protected.

            (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

            Contrary to your claim, Google News isn't commercial. Your logic that a non-profit action attracts attention/money isn't relevant. By your logic no celebrity would have access to fair use since their non-profit statements would attract attention to them and conceivably make more money. The test is for if the work itself is commercial. Google News doesn't make money.

            Second, Google News is for providing access to news. To claim news is uneducational in general is to ignore what news is. Now, if Google News started quoting from press releases by companies or one of the Government produced "news" releases, you'd have a much stronger argument. Such is propaganda and propaganda is not educational except in the general case that knowing what to look for it in propaganda.

            (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

            The original was news as well.

            (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

            Only the first paragraph is copied, normally, as well as a blurb picture. That's a relatively small part of most reports.

            (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

            This is the real crux that I think exhaunerates Google. Just like Slashdot or fark, Google News redirects to pages in a way that if anything *increases* the market for the work. It's unlikely I'd ever even see a fraction of the news papers listed on Google News if it weren't for Google. Google News doesn't replace all these news sites. It's a nexus for finding them.

            The funniest part is that Google already does the same thing with their search page. They include a small blurb and a link to the original site. While the Google Cache is likely dice, from the perspective of ad revenue being the market provider, search engines in general haven't really been questioned before. Google News is merely a search engine specifically geared towards news. If Google News is commit some illegal act by linking to news stories and including a blurb then so are most store catalogs, search engines, and tons of databases of information (lots of things one makes are copyrighted, after all).

            So, I sincerely fear for what such would mean.
            • US Code Title 17, 107: Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

              So, right away Google seems cleared.

              If some prime minister makes a speech, it's fair use to quote text from t
          • by yomahz (35486) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:31PM (#11985555)
            Fair Use [copyright.gov]

            The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: "quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported."
      • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:51AM (#11984623) Homepage
        When you attach your web server to the internet, you're letting everyone look at it.

        Part of that process is that people will look at it, classify it and judge it.

        It inherent in attaching a web server. If you don't like it, the best thing to do is unplug the ethernet cable from your web server, and tell people to dial directly (or through Minitel) to your server, because you feel that putting it on the internet places you in a difficult position.

        I don't see how you can have it both ways...they want wide exposure, so they place it in the most public place on the planet, then they complain that it isn't viewed in precisely the way they envisioned.

        I really don't understand the beef.
      • by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:53AM (#11984642) Homepage
        robots.txt?
        • by LordEd (840443) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @12:56PM (#11984993)
          I found their robots.txt file:

          User-Agent: *
          Disallow: /beta
          Disallow: /francais/news
          Disallow: /english/news

          Now... was this present before or after the lawsuit started, and is google news the same as normal indexing?
          • Now... was this present before or after the lawsuit started

            Looks like it was there before (unless they manually modified the TS, which is kinda silly).

            HTTP/1.1 200 OK
            Date: Sat, 19 Mar 2005 18:10:51 GMT
            Server: Apache/1.3.27 (Unix)
            Cache-Control: max-age=300
            Expires: Sat, 19 Mar 2005 18:15:51 GMT
            Last-Modified: Wed, 23 Feb 2005 10:54:38 GMT
            ETag: "761b2-4f-421c60ee"
            Accept-Ranges: bytes
            Content-Length: 79
            Connection: close
            Content-Type: text/plain

            User-Agent: *
            Disallow: /beta
            Disallow: /francais/news
            Disallow: /en
      • by GeckoX (259575) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @12:24PM (#11984815)
        None of that matters a shit.

        Google links to publicly accessible content hosted on publicly accessible websites, period.

        AFP posts content to their publicly accessible website, and lo and behold it's linked to.

        If AFP doesn't like the way they're doing business, then they should change it. I think they'd be hard pressed to be a successful news service though if they refused access to all of their news.

        As has already been aluded to, this is so SCO it's not even funny. There is no case.

        Now, even given that, maybe the best thing Google could do is abide by the AFP's request. Give them what they wish for. I probably won't even notice their stories disappearing from Google News, but I'm sure they'd notice their disappearing readership.

      • Shouldn't you have a right to tell them to remove the ad?

        They have every right to declere their wishes using robots.txt. Why they don't do that is an open question.

        Way too many suits like this are nothing more than companies refusing to follow the conventions of the web. It's analogous to the conventions for entering a business. That is, if the door isn't locked, the lights are on, and no sign saying closed is on the door, we presume we may enter freely. It's not reasonable to sue someone for not knoc

    • by IO ERROR (128968) * <error@NosPAm.ioerror.us> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:29AM (#11984470) Homepage Journal
      Some people are stupid. AFP seems to be stupid.

      However, the CNN article does state that AFP asked to be removed from Google News and that Google did not remove them, thus the lawsuit.

    • They're a press agency, selling content to newspapers, and -- tada -- web sites. Of course they're not happy about google taking what they sell, for free.
      • But google just has headlines and links. To read the story you have to go to an AFP authorized news site.
      • by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:58AM (#11984671)
        How is Google able to access the paid portions of AFP's site without paying?

        Simple answer - they cant, and arent. Google only has access to the information that AFP is providing to the public *FOR FREE*. If AFP does not want to provide that information free, they can arrange that by making the proper adjustments to their site.

        Heck, if they even want to be snippy, and not provide it *just* to Google, it would take 10 minutes with a robots.txt, or a user-agent check, to block Google from accessing their site. It sounds to me they are more interested in suing than in preventing Google from using them. Or perhaps they dont want to block Google from accessing them, but they want to force Google to pay for doing so.
        • by vanicat (162345) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @01:05PM (#11985040)

          How is Google able to access the paid portions of AFP's site without paying?


          AFP is selling content to other site. Those sites put the content they have paid for on the free part of their site. Then Google take those information, and put them for free in google news...

          AFP is selling content that you can put on your site to attract a public. But to legaly display this content you have to pay AFP, even if other site are putting this content for free on the web.
      • by Cletus the yokel (462083) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @12:41PM (#11984916)
        "They're a press agency, selling content to newspapers, and -- tada -- web sites. Of course they're not happy about google taking what they sell, for free."

        Hmmm. So, they want to block Google news from displaying its headlines. those headlines are displayed on the electronic editions of thousands of newspapers and news sites, worldwide. This leads us to 3 options:
        1) It's too difficult to ensure AFP headlines are filtered out. Google News is shut down or signigantly neutered.
        2) AFP headlines are filtered out. AFP loses market share and relevance
        3) (really, a result of 2) News sites avoid AFP like the plague - they don't much like the idea of AFP driving page views *away* from their sites.

        AFP's douchitude affects much more than AFP. It affects their customers (the newspapers). It would do them well to remember that.
    • AFP is like the AP and Reuters in that they are a News Agency, not a news outlet. They primarily sell their content to other outlets, such as CNN. Having individuals directly read their content is simply not important.
    • Where's your data proving that Google News drives users to AFP's site? I mean, besides reading an isolated story, sucking up bandwidth, and leaving?
    • by ElGanzoLoco (642888) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @12:16PM (#11984771) Homepage

      No, wait, you don't understand what AFP is: it is a news provider, like Reuters, they don't really care if people go to their website or not, it is completely marginal in their business. Their job is to sell news (pictures / text) to other media (newspapers, radios, websites etc), which can then use it directly (reprint it) or use it as a basis for more complete, analytical articles.

      So AFP does not really care how much coverage their content gets for free, in fact it is threatening as it "devaluates" the content: now anybody (and more importantly, any media) can have access to most of AFP's content minutes after it is broadcast, without paying for the (probably huge) monthly bill newspapers pay to AFP. (medias pay to get the right to access to AFP's network, through specific software and servers).

      The fact is that Google is indexing and displaying that content without paying for it. But Google can (rightfully) argue that they are only indexing other websites (ie the newspapers who have paid for AFP content and displaying it as is on their own websites), and that therefore they're not violating any copyright law. But in the eyes of AFP, Google is using their content in an original form, displaying it on their own website, with their own layout.

      So both companies have mostly valid arguments.
    • Yes, But...Maybe Not (Score:3, Informative)

      by reallocate (142797)
      AFP is not a web site. AFP was/is a wire service, just like AP, Reuters, etc. It really isn't in the retail news sales business. In effect, it wholesales its products to retail news outlets like newspapers, radio/TV stations, etc. Those purchasers are well aware of AFP's existence and don't need Google to remind them. So far as I know, AFP's products aren't priced for individual use, and it doesn't host any subscription-based intended for individual consumers.

      In other words, there aren't any AFP sites for
  • by Faust7 (314817) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:25AM (#11984439) Homepage
    AFP sells subscriptions to its content and does not provide it free. Google News gathers photos and news stories from around the Web and posts them on its news site, which is free to users.

    If Agence France Presse didn't want people to view their content for free... ...why didn't they properly lock it down?

    It's not like Google's impersonating a paid user account to get the information!
    • by ccady (569355)
      One word: Copyright. It doesn't matter that I let people see it: it's the right to make a copy that's being enforced here.
    • That is very funny, that all they have to do is drop Googlebot requests. Instead they go to court!
      • Yeah, 2 line robots.txt and they're done. Sounds a bit cheaper than going to court.
        • by rsborg (111459)
          Yeah, 2 line robots.txt and they're done. Sounds a bit cheaper than going to court.

          Yeah, except they did that, RTFA and all that.

          From TFA:

          AFP said it has informed Google that it is not authorized to use AFP's copyrighted material as it does and has asked Google to cease and desist from infringing its copyrighted work.
      • $17.5M is probably more than they would ever make directly from the free side of their news service. Presuming they win, its the more profitable manuver (Darl d'Bride, anyone?)
    • by Keruo (771880) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:41AM (#11984550)
      from AFP website:

      Copyright:
      ©AFP 2005 . All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of contents from this website for personal and non-commercial use only, provided they do not remove any copyright, trademarks or other proprietary notices. Except as provided above, users may not reproduce, publish, sell, distribute or in any way commercially exploit contents from this website without the prior written consent of AFP. AFP and its logo are registered trademarks.

      I think that locks it down properly. Google just violated their copyright by reproducing and publishing their content without consent.
      • I concede the legal point about copyright, which is what the whole lawsuit is about. That part of it is pretty cut-and-dried. However, that's not my main concern. One of the points the the article (though not necessarily AFP itself) seems to make is that AFP wants its content to only be able to paying customers. Unless that content is locked down on a technical level, this objective is dead. Several companies, amazingly, still have not realized just how easy the Internet has made the dissemination of i
      • Whoopdie-doo. Just because the AFP website makes some demands doesn't mean it's the law.
      • But by permitting access to the site, they *ARE* provifing it for free. Unless you have to pay and/or log in to view the stories, they *ARE) free - if they arent free, then they should be behind a user/password prompt, at which point Google would no longer be able to access them or even be aware of them.
        • by InsaneGeek (175763) <slashdot@NOSPam.insanegeeks.com> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @12:04PM (#11984702) Homepage
          Linux is free but it has restrictions as to redistribution rights, etc. Microsoft cannot take the free linux kernel and incorporate that into their product while ignoring the GPL restrictions that were put on the free download.

          Just because you put it up on a website without a password, doesn't mean that there are not restrictions on it's use.
        • That isn't actually true. As the copyright owner, they are free to put their work in a place where the public can see it. They still have the right to deny people the right to copy it and do whatever they want with it. The lack of a technical measure to prevent you from doing something does NOT automatically mean that you have the right to do it, anymore than an unlocked door entitles you to enter and take whatever you want.

          It's not clear to me, though that Google has actually done anything that infringes

      • *Google just violated their copyright*

        So, now the google bots must be programmed to read copyright notices on websites?

        If they win on that, I'm going to put a cpyright notice on my site in esperanto and then sue google for 47 million dollars.
        • by KiloByte (825081)
          Even experienced lawyers do have trouble reading copyright notices, EULAs and similar crap.

          The established and official practice is to put the machine-readable "copyright" into robots.txt.
      • 1> Copyright notices are not contracts.
        2> Even a contract does not trump fair use.
        3> Simply by viewing a web page you are making a copy - a reproduction - of the images and other content on the page. Their desires are irrelevant because it is impossible to read their webpage without breaking their licensing terms.
    • by SEE (7681) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @12:14PM (#11984764) Homepage
      Because they can't; AFP doesn't own (all) the servers Google is taking AFP content from.

      AFP provides content to newspapers; the newspapers that buy the content are happy to allow Google to scrape content from their entire sites because that drives pageviews. The result is that AFP content licensed by newspapers winds up on Google News, even though AFP did not allow Google direct access to AFP content.
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:29AM (#11984468)
    Now that Google's a publicly traded company flush with cash, many potential litigants are smelling blood.

    Google is both suing and being sued by so many parties now it's hard to keep track, as a search on Google will show. [google.com]

    One of the cases involving images.google.com [itvibe.com] appears to me to be more of a publicity stunt by the plaintiff.

    I think we can expect more such lawsuits.
  • Damages? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SteveXE (641833) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:29AM (#11984472)
    What Damages? Google doesnt make a cent off Google news. All Google does is provide a blurb and a link, if the user is interested they click the link and go to the originating website. How is that possibly bad?
    • What Damages? Google doesnt make a cent off Google news.

      Hahahaha, nice troll, I'll bite. What about the Google ads? Do you think the companies advertised there get that service for free?
      • Re:Damages? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by antifoidulus (807088) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:46AM (#11984581) Homepage Journal
        Actually, Google news is still in "beta" and it has been for a long time, so they don't actually sell ads. People speculate that one of the reasons that Google news has been in beta for so long is they don't know how they would work the copyright issue if they were a commercial service.....
      • And do you all think that it will stay that way for ever? Remember Gmail's POP3 release? They said: "This service is free, for now.".

        The problem is that too many Slashdotters don't see Google as a commercial company. Sure it's great that they take OpenSource seriously. Sure it's great that they are trying to outdo Microsoft. But they are still a company and they still want to make a profit.

        If Google News comes out of beta it wouldn't surprise me if the page would include google ads.
      • There are no ads on the "news" page.
    • Re:Damages? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PktLoss (647983)
      Google's income, or lack there of, is irrelevant. If you steal my car, and let all your friends drive it for free, but by doing so prevent me from going to work I can sue you for damages, my lost wages.

      What is important is the preceived lost income by AFP, not Google's possible income by replicating the news.

      A possible leverage point for litigation may be if AFP photos were being used beside a headline from another news source. In which case AFP may argue (and IMHO rightfully so) that their photography en
      • Re:Damages? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by The Cisco Kid (31490)
        You analogy is invalid. Google isnt depriving the French news site of its stories.

        A better analogy would be that you are an auto rental firm, and Google is telling people that ask that you have the cars they are interested in, and to contact you to rent cars from you. How could this possible be undesirable to you?

        In essence they are getting free advertising from Google. Google should apoligize for not charging them, send them a bill, and stop returning hits/links to their news site until the bill is paid.
      • Whether Google is making money off Google News is likely to be completely relevant. Google will probably try to claim "fair use" is the images and text, and the bounds on non-commercial fair-use are weaker. This is why Google has always kept ads off the news page.
  • by ShatteredDream (636520) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:32AM (#11984488) Homepage
    MSN, Yahoo and Google need to blacklist any company that sues them over something this stupid from ever being returned favorably in their results again. There is no reason that this French company's news should be returned now when any source from the U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, etc. is availible on the same topic.
  • by xiando (770382) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:32AM (#11984489) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps I am stupid or ignorant, but I still do not get why corporations figure it is bad for them to be promoted by Google and their services. It is not like Google shows the entire article, them linking sites and showing headlines has only one effect: People learn about the sites they show and click the links, meaning the news agency gets more visits and therefore more money. Isn't cutting off your major biggest referrer kind of shooting yourself in the foot?
    • RTFM:

      "Without AFP's authorization, defendant is continuously and willfully reproducing and publicly displaying AFP's photographs, headlines and story leads on its Google News web pages," AFP charged in its lawsuit.

      AFP said it has informed Google that it is not authorized to use AFP's copyrighted material as it does and has asked Google to cease and desist from infringing its copyrighted work.

      AFP alleged that Google has ignored such requests and as of the filing date of the lawsuit "continues in an unaba
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:34AM (#11984502)
    Please note the difference between a "news agency" and a "news site"!

    It's not trivial to filter out press reports from a news agency.

    News agencies sell their raw-stories to news sites. Google can easily remove a news site from their news index, but excluding some articles from a news agency appearing on various news sites is difficult...
    • "News agencies sell their raw-stories to news sites. Google can easily remove a news site from their news index, but excluding some articles from a news agency appearing on various news sites is difficult..."

      So, the news agency should be suing the news site for not having robots.txt set up properly, not google. Yes? No?

      But to short circuit the whole thing, how about the equivalent of robots.txt be developed for comment fields for all binary files and as a simple code to include in all text files?

      Is this
  • have numerous laws set up to explicitly avoid such situations?

    Maybe I've been misled, but when a news agency publishes a story, that story can be used and published by others as long as the source is cited. Google cites all of their sources, links to the original source, and essentially are providing pre-search engine usefulness. They're collecting news that people are interested in or has general appeal and displaying it like they would a search, and there's already numerous laws that state it doesn't

    • CNN and your local newspaper most likely subscribe to the wire services and have a deal that permits redistribution.

      If Google does not, then by providing excerpts for a non-editorial, non-educational, and rather commercial purpose they may be unfairly infringing.
  • Sigh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kclittle (625128) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:35AM (#11984507)
    Another example of the growing and insidious meme "since digitial information is so easy to steal, it must be OK to do so".

    Uh, it's not.

    • Steal? What steal? They are helping to direct visitors to the french news site. Presumably, the site wants visitors (if it doesnt, why does it exist?)

      People scheme and scheme of ways to get their site into results returned by Google. It boggles the imagination why anyone would sue for getting for free what so many are willing to go to great lengths to get.
  • by DarkMantle (784415) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:52AM (#11984627) Homepage
    There was a similar case shortly after the birth of the www. Site "A" sued Site "B" for quoting part of thier website and linking to it if readers wanted to read more. Imagine the horror, one site linking to another.

    Anyway, the court decided it was not Copyright infringement because the original source was provided and given full credit, and some other factors.

    Nothing to see here
  • by justins (80659) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:53AM (#11984638) Homepage Journal
    Why is google still doing business in France anyway? With the recent lawsuits the most reasonable option seems to be to blacklist the entire country. Let them use msn and suffer.
  • I wonder (Score:3, Interesting)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:55AM (#11984652) Homepage Journal
    Have they tried applying a robots.txt [searchengineworld.com] file properly first? Wouldn't it be cheaper?

  • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @11:57AM (#11984666) Journal
    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /lawsuit
  • Reality check (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mattr (78516) <mattr@NosPam.telebody.com> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @12:05PM (#11984709) Homepage Journal
    caveat I'm develop search engines and also worked in a photo agency for some years like AFP.

    Bottom line: AFP is right but Google's lack of ads or even full stories on the page should save them.

    I just looked at Google News and noticed there is a photo that goes to a story, but there is no photo on the page it links to. The photo must have come from some other news source and the caption "Boston Globe" got pasted below it as a link.

    This is maybe good for layout but is contrary to what a photographer would be used to seeing. It probably got them pissed off.

    I doubt Google is knowingly copying from AFP. I think they grab any photos they can find. But they will probably find a lot of quality AFP photos. The problem is you don't know who they got it from. And the lack of attribution. That is how AFP makes their money: Copyright control. And guess what? Google uses the work of AFP photographers to make a more visually interesting page for a service that is both free and worth enough money to make an IPO.

    Well, this was bound to happen. AFP can probably prove it was an AFP photo, but cannot prove Google copied it from them (and Google likely didn't). It would be useful to include metadata in the photos as to proper credit, url, and policy.

    Probably AFP contacted Google, got rebuffed, and then AFP realized that if they don't fight it they will lose control over their online future. Which is true.

    But this is really a search engine - you can't actually read the articles there but need to surf elsewhere - and there are no ads, so it can be said that this is a free service.

    Anyway it walks a fine line between a search engine and a publication, and the best thing would be if Google could actually sign a contract with Reuters and AFP say, and show large, high quality photos on their site. They could also pay photographers and writers directly which is of course the next step, when Google really goes for the throat. For now it is just a search engine, and Google should be free to make a dynamic layout any way they want, except that it should show accreditation (if in the photo file itself) at least as a mouseover popup label.

    I'm not going to guess the outcome, but hope AFP loses badly, otherwise it will be chilling. They ought to be able to demand that Google not index a photo that has an AFP byline embedded in it, but that too is an interpretation we'll have to wait and see about.
  • by say (191220) <sigve AT wolfraidah DOT no> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @12:07PM (#11984722) Homepage

    Maybe this isn't a simple issue of publicity or drawing easy cash from Google, but a last attempt to win a juridical last resort against the inevitable death of news agencies?

    As the web continues it's march towards becoming the primary news source, and remains free-and-open, news agencies will suffer. Recently, Norway's second largest newspaper Dagbladet [www.db.no] opted out of a new contract with the national news agency NTB [www.ntb.no]. Although they did make a deal with ANB [siste.no], a smaller and cheaper agency, the ratio of articles directly from the agencies seem to fall quite quickly.

    And it makes sense. Why pay a lot for content you can receive for free? Journalism in the information world is cheap, because you don't need to travel much to get a good overview. Blogs and online newspapers are much cheaper to make and distribute than paper papers (heh). As journalism and distribution becomes cheaper, the need for agencies diminishes.

    So a last resort for the agencies could be making it impossible to aggregate news through portals. They're trying to halt development, to avoid the inevitable, or at least get payed for their inconvenience. I hope they lose, although I'm a little nostalgic on the paper papers behalf too.

    • by Thomas Miconi (85282) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:32PM (#11985560)
      As the web continues it's march towards becoming the primary news source, and remains free-and-open, news agencies will suffer.

      *sigh* You really don't seem to realise that "the web as a primary news source" is an oxymoron. Because, guess what - real world event don't happen on the web. They happen in the real world (duh!) And you need to have real-world journalists to report on them (double-duh!) They are the primary news source; any website that does not directly employ journalists is, at best, a secondary news source.

      The AFP is composed of a few hundred journalists scattered all over the world, who write articles and take pictures on real-world events. The AFP is a major "primary news source". Web-based publications are dependent on AFP and other journalists to produce the content that appears on your screen, even though you don't seem to be aware of this basic fact. Apparently in your world news stories and photographs self-assemble spontaneously from random electronic noise.

      Journalists and photographers, believe it or not, need to pay the bills too. So agencies such as AFP sell their stories to publishers (web or paper based), usually in a non-exclusive manner, without redistribution rights. This allows them to pay their journalists, who produce all the hot juicy content that titillates your ocular globes.

      I'll make a very simple summary of the case for you:

      - Google aggregates articles (and photographs) from public websites, with their permission.

      - AFP licenses photographs to websites, without redistribution rights: The websites not allowed to redistribute the picture.

      - However, Google harvests AFP-made pictures from websites and happily displays them on GoogleNews.

      - AFP says to Google: "Stop that, please"

      - Google ignores them

      - AFP sues

      Got it ?

      Thomas-
  • Send feedback to AFP (Score:3, Informative)

    by $exyNerdie (683214) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @12:11PM (#11984740) Homepage Journal
    Send feedback to AFP on what you think of this lawsuit here:

    http://www.afp.com/english/afp/?pid=contact [afp.com]


    You can always use John Doe's mailing address :-)

  • by $exyNerdie (683214) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @12:14PM (#11984763) Homepage Journal

    Yahoo's AFP news site:

    http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=index2&cid=1504 [yahoo.com]
  • And link to AFP via yahoo! [msn.com]

    You avoid the litigation issue of foreign countries at any rate.

  • AFP (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jalet (36114)
    sucks !

    A bunch of stupid ass holes.

    and yes, I'm french
  • From the article: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Khuffie (818093) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @12:56PM (#11984991) Homepage
    "We allow publishers to opt out of Google News but most publishers want to be included because they believe it is a benefit to them and to their readers," Google spokesman Steve Langdon said of the AFP lawsuit.

    So...if they didn't like it, they could have opted out...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2005 @01:04PM (#11985037)

    http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article.php/33 34651 [internetnews.com]

    the company requested the removal of RSS-powered Google News headlines from his Ecademy business networking site and made it clear Webmasters are not allowed to display headlines from Google News on third-party sites.

    oh the irony

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