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More on Belguim

By - February 13, 2007

News

Danny has a good overview and history of the case here, anyone who wants to look more deeply into this issue should read it. You can get lost down the rabbit hole with cases like this, in particular cases involving European law, which suffice to say does not work like US law. Precedents are less important here, but they can still matter (watch France, for instance). My take is to step back and do some chin stroking and ask some questions out loud. The first one seems obvious….

Q. So is this why Google hasn’t put ads next to Google News anywhere?

A. I think so, but Google has told me that has nothing to do with it. Doing so might tip the scales to potential plaintiffs such as the ones in this case. Including in the US. If Google is making money directly off their content….well. That’s just too much of an FU.

Q. But theoretically, it could?

A. Sure, of course. Does it all day long with all the rest of the content in its search engine, and the precedent of robots.txt is well established, as Danny points out.

Q. Will this case mean Google can’t index news sites?

A. No, just the ones who complained, and since Google is appealing, not necessarily even those, and from what I can tell, Google can still index them outside of their narrow regions.

Q. Is this good or bad for Google?

A. It’s bad, but not that bad. This is a fight it knew would come, and one can’t win every fight. Even Google. If it clarifies the law around this, that is good. Even if the clarification is initially bad, it will allow for rational business deals to get cut.

Q. Huh?

A. Well, the enemy of innovation is uncertainty. Google (and all of us) has been uncertain about whether it could commercialize its News service. So far, the answer is sure, if you pay us enough. And so far, Google has not wanted to do that.

Q. So this is all about renegotiating the relationship between traditional media companies, their distribution networks, and the role of search in the new media landscape?

A. Yup.


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3 thoughts on “More on Belguim

  1. p-air says:

    >Q. So is this why Google hasn’t put ads next to Google News
    > anywhere?
    >A. I think so, but Google has told me that has nothing to do
    >with it. Doing so might tip the scales to potential
    >plaintiffs such as the ones in this case. Including in the
    >US. If Google is making money directly off their
    >content….well. That’s just too much of an FU.

    Don’t forget, that while Google may not be placing ads there, they gaining tremendous *value*. For one, personalization provides a lot of user information that could be difficult or expensive to get otherwise. Search access is also provided fm News, not to mention access to other monetized properties (ie. recently Maps), from which they do monetize. It’s interesting to see how “fair use” will work here versus other areas. In music, providing 30 second clips of songs seems to have become acceptable all over the world, why would news excerpts, and small ones at that, be treated so differently. Hmmm…

  2. Joseph Hunkins says:

    Excellent dialog, Socrates.com!

  3. Ken Doctor says:

    Of course, Google has tiptoed around the ad issue on content as it approaches the news industry as a friend. It’s been interesting to note the differing responses of the U.S. and the European news companies. In the U.S., corporate attorneys considered and considered as Google became too much of a traffic-driving phenomenon to say “no” to. U.S. publishers have already figured that they couldn’t win enough in a “fair use” fight, so they are in various stages of negotiation. It is all coming down to the simple question of what the rev share is going to be today, and how much it can be re-negotiated in the future. I’ve written that Google to me is Syndication Squared. Syndicating content. Syndicating advertising. And matching the two together is a powerful force. Publishers will end up getting a rev share of ad revenue related to headlines/briefs, but it will it be pennies on the dollar?