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Google Threatens French Media Ban 419

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 Crypto Gnome ( 651401 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:14AM (#41702479) Homepage Journal
    Instituting a law that makes search-engines PAY content providers for click-through links from searches will obviously result in ALL links to media being dropped from search results.

    The phrase you're looking for is NATURAL CONSEQUENCES.

    Personally I think The Big G should have immediately dropped all search results leading to French Media Sites with a HUGE banner saying "this is what THAT LAW requires us to do".
  • by lightknight ( 213164 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:28AM (#41702545) Homepage

    I see you are still young, padawan.

    Yes, they would cut their noses off to spite their faces. Happens all the time.

    Ever have a boss who denied a reasonable request that the rest of the team needed fulfilled before continuing work, if only to exercise his / her arbitrary powers of decision? For some people, it's less about the money, and more about the power. Why serve in heaven when you can rule in hell?

  • by GrpA ( 691294 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:30AM (#41702559)

    No, a better idea would be to still have them, except when you click on the link, it takes you to a page where it asks for your credit card details before taking you to the link, and identifies the person responsible for the law.

    *that* would be poetic...


  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:43AM (#41702635)

    Personally I'm on the fence with this one. On one hand, if there was functional competition in searching market, and one company delisted sites hence reducing quality of service, people would flock to competitors and site would lose. Unfortunately google does in fact have a de facto (and at least according to some EU organs de jure) monopoly on search.

    On the other hand, while being a monopoly isn't illegal, it does apply heavy limits to what you can do. For example, leveraging your monopoly to get better terms is often illegal. This is a clear-cut case of monopoly leveraging to strong-arm the media outlets. Granted, google is making a killing from its business model and is unlikely to be willing to part with a cut of a cake, especially considering that if it gives cut to one party, it will likely end up having to give such a cut to everyone. This would demolish google.

    Either way, this is a very difficult case to call either way, there's far more to it then meets the eye on the first glance. Both sides have very compelling arguments to bring to the table.

  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:54AM (#41702699)
    If you wrote an amazing article, and no one ever read it because they couldn't find it, why did you write it?

    You then complain that a search engine is making money from your content and not compensating you, when they have told you exactly how to stop your articles from being put in their search results already (robots.txt) You want to have your cake and eat it too.
    If you expect a search engine to pay for your content, expect them to ignore it completely. Watch as your userbase disappears and nobody reads your content or views your ads. You should be paying Google for every visitor they refer to your website, not the other way around. They spent resources crawling your website and indexing it and they sent your visitors to you, who click on your ads. You should be compensating the search engines.
  • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @04:03AM (#41702753)

    Or is my only obligation to you a link that may or may not provide you with revenue?

    Actually, not even that.

    Lets say that my summary of your work brings me a ten thousand bucks. Shouldn't you be entitled to a cut of that ten thousand bucks?

    When newspapers do a review of a movie or TV show, do they give a cut of ther advertising revenues to the producers? Actually, the film makers will give the papers al kinds of inducements to help them do more articles. same for book reviews. How about restaurant reviews? Should newspapers pay the restaurants when they do them?

    This whole thing is idiotic. Google just gives a sentence or two at most of the article. It's fair use in any country that recognises the concept.

    The French media could block Google with Robots.txt and set up their own news search portal and then they can sell ads and divide up the income, if there's so much money to be had.

  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @04:14AM (#41702789) Journal
    The Washington Post was absolutely livid about the Drudge Report "deep linking" to stories on its Web site in the late 90s. It tried blocking him at first, but he'd find ways around it. Eventually they realized he was driving a huge amount of traffic to the site, which resulted in advertising dollars for them. But they were so used to being "the only game in town" in Washington DC (The Washington Times doesn't count; it's a church-funded instrument that has never operated in the black founded in 1982 by a guy who claimed to be the messiah) that they had this mentality that they drove traffic places, not the other way around. Eventually they recognized that they had no choice but to look the other way while Drudge continued deep linking, but a few people on staff still grumbled about him being a parasite profiting off of their work.

    France and the U.S. have very different ideas about the media and intellectual property (for example, publishers in France set book prices and the bookstores can't discount them). There's a reason bookstores aren't dying there like they are in the states -- in fact, physical book sales are up []. TFA in this case doesn't specify whether the complaint is about Google scraping entire pages from the site (for previews) or just displaying the brief summary, but that would seem to be where a line might need to be drawn. If a Google user can read an entire news story by squinting at the preview on Google's site without ever visiting the publisher that paid for the content to be written, I could see the French having an issue with that. But if their complaint is that you can search the text of their articles, see a brief summary of the article that directs you to the publisher's site, they're going to need to wake up and realize that Google (and similar search engines) are driving visitors and euros to them without having to make payments directly.

    Would a restaurant complain about trademark infringement if the city put up signs with their logo directing people to the restaurant? Well, maybe in France.
  • Re:robots.txt (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ash-Fox ( 726320 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @04:32AM (#41702855) Journal

    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /

    They didn't say they didn't want spiders. Nor did they say they didn't want to be on search engines, they said they wanted to be paid for having their content displayed (even if it is just a sniplet) on another site. Your proposal does not match the circumstances in the slightest.

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @04:48AM (#41702919) Journal

    Your right, Google is making money off the content. They are using your work in the process. It's sort of like a taxi driver putting a sign on his cab saying he will take people to your out of the way poetry readings and not waving the cab fair. Maybe he puts a few lines of your poetry on the sign to catch the eye of your fans too.

    Does he owe you money? Or is bringing customers to your venue enough?

  • by toutankh ( 1544253 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @04:55AM (#41702945)

    Actually good independent newspapers exist in France and some of them do a great work. The best example is "Le Canard Enchaîné", which has existed for almost a century. Although self-qualified "satyrical", this weekly is at the origin of many scandals in France in the past century. The journalists do amazing investigations, you won't see ads on any page (to ensure independence), it cannot be read electronically (although there is a website [] including a poor-quality version of the front page). And guess what, people are willing to pay for a paper version with no ads and quality content. They release accounts and balance every year, and unlike every mainstream newspaper using tons of ads and an electronic version, the balance is positive every year.

    By the way, politicians are afraid of it, too. I'm not sure there are equivalents in other countries in fact, but maybe someone could enlighten me. For instance, how many national newspapers with 0 ads can you find in the USA?

  • by Rhaban ( 987410 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @06:53AM (#41703371)

    But that's not how Google works. They take the content for free then charge money for it (indirectly through advertising), giving nothing back to the source. They're a middle-man that never pays their suppliers.

    They don't take content: they extracct a small part of the content (the title and a small summary). That's called fair use.

    Newspapers do the exact same thing: they take some content created by someone else (like a rioter burning a car), take a small part of that content (a photograph of the burning car), then charge users to see this extract (by having them pay for the newspaper), and give nothing back to the source.

  • by sacrilicious ( 316896 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @07:23AM (#41703493) Homepage

    say you wrote an amazing article. I summarize it and slap advertisements on it and provide a link to your original article. Lets say that my summary of your work brings me a ten thousand bucks. Shouldn't you be entitled to a cut of that ten thousand bucks?

    What if I win a marathon, and you run an article on it with ads that end up getting you thousands of dollars... shouldn't I be entitled to some of that money for having done the newsworthy thing? My marathon training cost me enormous amounts of money, as well as true sweat and pain.

    What if instead of running a marathon, I throw a benefit auction for children with leukemia, and you make money off of making news/ads over that? Might the dying children be entitled to some of the money you made?

    What if I rob a bank, and you run an article on that which brings you ad money? What if your refusal to share that ad money with me makes me decide never to rob a bank again unless you change your policy?

  • by Half-pint HAL ( 718102 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @07:33AM (#41703547)

    They [Google] direct millions and millions of people to the websites of those publishers. And the publishers want those hits.

    You clearly weren't paying attention to your Introduction to Web Design class: the success of a website is not in the "hits" it's in reader retention, or stickiness. Google as a basic search engine was defensible. However, Google News is having a marked negative effect on the publications it links to. By indexing so effeciently, it dramatically reduces reader retention. People don't stay on the newspaper site, they go back to Google and find more news there. Without reader retention, the news sites find it very very difficult to attract advertisers. The news sites can't make money. Google is leaching money out of the system and away from the content creators. So it's OK for webshops, it's OK for fansites, but it's a massive problem for professional journalism.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison