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.
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?