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Google Threatens French Media Ban 419

Posted by samzenpus
from the look-somewhere-else dept.
another random user writes in with a BBC story about Google's displeasure with proposed French plans to make search engines pay for content. "Google has threatened to exclude French media sites from search results if France goes ahead with plans to make search engines pay for content. In a letter sent to several ministerial offices, Google said such a law 'would threaten its very existence.' French newspaper publishers have been pushing for the law, saying it is unfair that Google receives advertising revenue from searches for news. French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti also favors the idea. She told a parliamentary commission it was 'a tool that it seems important to me to develop.'"
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Google Threatens French Media Ban

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  • by Issarlk (1429361) on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:11AM (#41702461)
    There's no french money, there's only european money. That's the problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:11AM (#41702463)

    Just put a complete paywall up over your news. Then you don't have to worry about anyone ever reading it again.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:23AM (#41702511)

    Please stop saying "the French" and say "the French government" instead.

    Being governed by incompetent morons doesn't make us so.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:26AM (#41702529)

    Being governed by incompetent morons doesn't make us so.

    Actually, it does.

  • by Derekloffin (741455) on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:39AM (#41702609)
    Then put it behind a pay wall, or a robots.txt. If you can't be bothered with either of those two things then don't bitch that it gets indexed by a search engine.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:43AM (#41702631)

    > I just summarized it and provided a link.

    You make it sound so simple. If you think you can do that better, do it. And get those ten thousand bucks yourself.

    Google is doing something that _no one else in the world is able to do half as well as them_. I think they deserve their money for that. The "simple summary work" that you point out is way more complex than you make it sound.

    So no, you are not entitled to a piece of that simply because you wrote an article.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:45AM (#41702651)

    I call bullshit. Google doesn't "slap advertisements on content that other people create." Google slaps advertisements on their search pages, which link to content that other people create. Google offers up a number of tools to allow people to avoid Google links to their content. What's happening here is that they want Google to pay them money because Google is making money. However, here's the thing. Since the actual content is still on their servers, if someone wants to actually view the content, they have to go to the non-Google servers. People are welcome to put advertisements there.

    Google should tell the French media that Google will be happy to pay a share of advertising revenues to the content holders as soon as the content holders pay Google for linking to their content. Until then, they're delisted. Who needs whom more?

  • by whydavid (2593831) on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:45AM (#41702653)
    Your marginalizing of Google's role in driving traffic to these websites and making it possible for user's to find content suggests that you have no background in - or even passing familiarity with - the field of information retrieval. Google provides a service, of real value, with very real technical merit, and profits off of that by placing ads on the results page. They are not appropriating content for this beyond that necessary to allow a user to decide whether or not a search result is relevant. Meanwhile, these French news outlets benefit from billions of click-throughs and anyone searching for French-language news benefits from being able to find it quickly. And of course neither the users nor the listed web sites have to pay a penny for this service. There is a good reason these nuts are alone in challenging this business model. Referrals from Google probably make up a huge portion of their web traffic, while searches for French news probably contribute a small fraction of 1% to Google's ad revenue. Let's see how the fallout from this fight affects each party.
  • robots.txt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:47AM (#41702663)

    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /

  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:47AM (#41702671) Homepage Journal

    That's a completely backwards approach.

    People don't use google because they know you write great articles. They use google because they are looking for something. The people writing on the other hand, really want people to see what they wrote. Google provides a free service to those writers, bringing in viewers without charging them anything. How can google do this? How can they provide this amazing service for free with all the hardware and bandwidth required? They charge advertisers.

    If a site is so popular and so important that people do just want information from them - they wont be going via google, they'll be coming straight in.

    If google were rehosting the full content - I could see it. But if they are just linking to things on the WEB - well, it should be obvious that what this law does is break the web. That's what really gets me. These news outlets see the web as a way to make money but they don't want anyone else to benefit from the information they provide unless they get a cut.

    Following this logic, investors who read the business page should pay a percentage of their profits to the newspapers as well.

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:56AM (#41702717)

    Following this logic, investors who read the business page should pay a percentage of their profits to the newspapers as well.

    Don't give them ideas, you know they'll try it. They have a failing business model to prop up. Just look at the recording industry...

  • by asdf7890 (1518587) on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:57AM (#41702719)

    Google's Biz Model is to slap advertisements on content that other people create. Google makes a stink ton of money doing this.

    And some are just plain green with envy that Google's business model is more-or-less working and theirs hasn't really done so for a while now. This isn't about creator's rights, this is playground-like cries of "not fair!".

    Since the first news papers media outlets have taken freely available information then charged for it and wrapped adverts around it in order to pay for the distribution of that information (and making a profit too). Now someone else is playing their game and playing it better than them they are crying foul. Google's adverts are no more wrong then their adverts, issue prices or subscription costs: in both cases someone is profiting from the act of making information easier to access for those who pay (which to my mind is fair enough in both cases).

    Just because Google has *indexed* the content doesn't some how give them the right to profit from that content (as they do)

    Are you suggesting that they do all that work indexing the content and giving you easy access to it for free? They aren't a charity you know.

    Are you saying that news papers should not carry adverts either? Or charge for each issue more than cost price for manufacture and distribution? After all, all they've done is collate a bunch of information and by the same argument that doesn't give them the right to expect to profit from it.

    and not give the creators a cut. Google does not want to cut the creators a share of the money that Google earns by appropriating that original content.

    With words like "appropriate" you talk like they are pulling a FunnyJunk and taking all the content, deliberately removing attribution & all other links to the original. Google present the headline and perhaps the first sentence or so, along with where they go the news from and a full link to the originating site.

    As usual they'll scream about it "breaking the internet" - but paying creators part of the profit that Google makes from indexing the content that other people generated really does is break Google's biz model.

    Even if it doesn't break the Internet, it is completely unnecessary and will just add complication and therefore cost. If the news outlets don't want Google to use their content in the manner that Google uses content then they should just ask to be de-listed, or use the facility that already exists in robots.txt to tell Google not to index the content that they wish to keep for themselves. Problem solved. The thing is, this is not what they want: they want to be in Google's index but on their terms, terms that would help them perpetuate their out-of-date business model.

  • by sFurbo (1361249) on Friday October 19, 2012 @04:38AM (#41702887)
    If only there was some way to nicely ask Google not to use a page [google.com] that the content providers could use.
  • by moronoxyd (1000371) on Friday October 19, 2012 @04:43AM (#41702905)

    They take the content for free then charge money for it (indirectly through advertising), giving nothing back to the source.

    Wrong.
    They direct millions and millions of people to the websites of those publishers.
    And the publishers want those hits. Otherwise they could easily stop Google from doing so by using the robots.txt.

    What actually happens is that the publishers want BOTH: Google redirecting people to their sites and getting money from Google for doing so.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday October 19, 2012 @04:45AM (#41702911)

    It isn't highway robbery when you hand someone your money and say "please take this, I want you to have it"

    Don't want google's "highway robbery"? change one line on your site and it's done, google won't be a problem any more for you.

    these sites should pay google, these newspapers get valuable traffic thanks to google, they have ads on their pages which they make money from every time google provide a new set of eyes to look at their page. But they don't pay google, they expect to get this service for free.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Friday October 19, 2012 @04:56AM (#41702947)

    "Every country has the government it deserves (Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite) "

    -- Joseph de Maistre

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2012 @05:06AM (#41702971)

    well said. They just don't want to charge and lose their oligarchical control over news. Why make customers pay, and have to endure new cheaper competition when you can make Google pay. Also, these media companies are free to use ad sense and other advertising platforms are they now, and recoup a lot of the money??

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2012 @05:09AM (#41702987)

    Robots.txt only removes links to their content. I think they want to opt out while making sure everyone else is opted out as well so that Google doesn't send traffic to their competition instead.

    A moronic law like this would achieve just that.

  • by lexa1979 (2020026) on Friday October 19, 2012 @05:28AM (#41703051)
    Screw the french fries, they're Belgian !
  • by pod (1103) on Friday October 19, 2012 @05:31AM (#41703063) Homepage

    0. We're too cheap and now all our media is funded by advertisers, while we wonder why it's not accountable to the public anymore.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2012 @05:59AM (#41703161)

    Cool story, bro, but what does it have to do with topic? It would be more like Amazon showing a cover and snippet from your book with a link to buy it from you and you getting furious because they're also showing their own ads alongside it - what the fuck, not everyone looking at that page buys my book, but everyone brings a few cents to Amazon? Unfair!

  • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Friday October 19, 2012 @06:37AM (#41703295)

    They'll end up liking the taste of crow. Idiots. Without search engines, the online content will never be found, shrivel up, and die. It's a symbiotic relationship and punishing one side is just going to hurt the other.

    A child can understand that concept.

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Friday October 19, 2012 @06:52AM (#41703365)

    Private Eye is awesome. There are very few publications that deliberately go looking for the shit quite like Ian Hislop and friends.

    I've heard by word-of-mouth that they've got the biggest pile of cash to defend against libel lawsuits of any publisher in the UK.

    Significant, given how slap-happy the rich cunts are in this country (and in much of Russia and the Middle East), and how fond they are of taking advantage of Britain's broken libel laws to attack their critics in court.

  • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Friday October 19, 2012 @07:23AM (#41703495)

    I think you're missing the point. It's all well and good saying sites will "shrivel up and die" without search engine results, but right not they're shrivelling up an dieing due to a lack of money. Google isn't just a search engine it's the "front page" to most people's internet. It's undermined the "stickiness" of everyone else's site, making it very difficult for individual sites to survive on ad revenue.

    Google isn't "symbiotic", it's "parasitic", because while it appears to offer short-term benefits, it devalues individual sites (especially news sites) and destroys brand loyalty (I personally read stories from 5 different news sites this morning thanks to Google News -- good for me, bad for the news sites).

    Sites don't earn money on eyeballs alone, you know....

  • by toriver (11308) on Friday October 19, 2012 @07:46AM (#41703609)

    In that case they can just add a simple robots,txt to tell the "parasite" to go away. And then start waving their fucking magic wand around to make people discover the site directly.

  • by Bengie (1121981) on Friday October 19, 2012 @08:05AM (#41703725)

    Google isn't "symbiotic", it's "parasitic"

    Just like the bacteria in your gut. Go a head, take a ton of antibiotics and see how well that goes.

  • by phayes (202222) on Friday October 19, 2012 @08:19AM (#41703869) Homepage

    I agree with the GP. While it is true that disagreement is not a sufficient reason for down modding, ignorance is.

    When I read /. it is not to trudge through posts that are ignorant, but to be able to benefit from the insightful ones. Yes, we should mostly up-mod according to the guidelines but ignorance is sufficient justification in some cases for down-modding with overrated. In other cases, a reply is the best answer as the GP demonstrated.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Friday October 19, 2012 @08:19AM (#41703875) Journal
    Just out of curiosity, why exactly do you think that France is going after the ad money? Because the majority of search engines belong to America. They had one approach on how to do it, but decided that it hurt their small businesses so decided not to do that. IOW, France is looking at a way to help their press (illegally, by WTO treaty) by going after American companies money. That is pure nationalism.
  • by Ironhandx (1762146) on Friday October 19, 2012 @08:24AM (#41703933)

    Google has the lions share of the market, but its market share for searchs as of September 2012 is 65%.... this is at minimum 15% shy of anyone being able to scream Monopoly!

    What Google is doing here right now is saying out loud and directed at some idiot French government officials what EVERY search engine will do if this comes to pass.

    The only people that will try to get this enforced are the old entrenched newspapers and their sites, and this will only bring about their downfall even faster, so bring it on!

  • by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Friday October 19, 2012 @09:46AM (#41704919) Homepage

    Arguable statements? It's pretty well established now that free newspaper sites are failing. They do not earn their keep. It is a known fact, a done deal.

    If a site's traffic is not generating sufficient revenue to pay it's bills, then operating a website site is not a viable business model. Sometimes that's OK, as the site is not the revenue generating arm of the business, but more of a promotional expense. If a business model does not work, you change the business model.

    Who said "lots of money"? I'm talking adequate money. And as for constructive proposals... how about the RTFA...?

    It is a pretty short article. nearly half of it is quoted in the summary above. What is not quoted doesn't include any constructive ideas. "Gimme!" is really not a constructive idea.

    Pay the content providers a cut of advertising revenue for providing the content that makes Google News the most visited news site on the planet.

    Google (as a search provider) has the data to determine which links are (or are statistically likely to become) popular, and provides aggregated lists (such as their news page) as starting points for people to find content without having to actually run a search query for "things I might be interested in". Google then sells advertizing space on their site, but the greater value still lies in the data they collect about people using their services -it allows them to develop new services that people will want to use (thus generating even more data for them) and sells access to portions of that data to others. It is the selling of distilled portions of this data that makes Google money.

    As for requiring a share of these revenues in exchange for allowing Google to include links to a site's content in an aggregated list. I don't believe it is legally valid under current international business practices. Further I do not expect Google to agree under any circumstances. It is a line in the sand for them, beyond which lies the slippery slope of every website being paid to have their content indexed/aggregated by search providers, or indeed being paid by anyone who indirectly makes use of their sites existence as part of their own business! It would spell the end for companies that live on "the Google method" (i.e. providing services to users in exchange for collecting data about what they do with those services, and then selling the results of that market research data.)

  • by k2r (255754) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:54AM (#41705935)

    And France has universal healthcare and a life expectancy 3 years higher than the US.
    And about the same unemployment rate.

    Firing people isn't all what's important in life...

  • Revenue streams (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Friday October 19, 2012 @06:22PM (#41710675)

    So Google males money by selling advertising on a site that provides links to other sites that can then gain revenue by selling advertising on their site. Now they want to charge Google for listing their site? What's next? Charging to link sites? Not a far step considering that a search result is just a list of links.

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