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Belgian Newspapers Agree to Drop Lawsuit Over Google News
As we've been reporting, there's been a movement underway in many countries to argue that something like Google News -- which displays headlines, brief snippets and links to full news stories on newspapers' own websites -- somehow violates newspaper copyrights. This makes no sense logically, especially given just how much those same sites likely spend on "search engine optimization" to try to get better ranked in search engines. The only explanation for it that makes sense is the most obvious one: the newspapers are struggling to find ways to make money these days, and they see that Google is making a lot. Hence: come up with a plan to force Google to fork over some of that revenue. Of course, the very first to do this -- years before Germany and France and others got into the game -- was a group of Belgian newspapers who sued Google for sending them traffic. Amazingly, a local court agreed with the newspapers and told Google to pay up. Following this, Google removed those newspapers from its index, leading the newspapers to freak out and demand to be put back in.
The somewhat acrimonious legal dispute continued, until now. Google has announced that the news publishers have agreed to a "settlement," where the terms are somewhat hilarious. Basically, it looks like they've agreed to drop the lawsuit... if Google will teach them how to make money online:
- Promote both the publishers’ and Google’s services - Google will advertise its services on the publishers’ media, while the publishers will optimise their use of Google’s advertising solutions, in particular AdWords to attract new readers.
- Increase publishers’ revenue - by collaborating on making money with content, both via premium models (paywalls, subscriptions), and via advertising solutions such as the AdSense platform and the AdExchange marketplace;
- Increase reader engagement - by implementing Google+ social tools, including video Hangouts, on news sites, and launching official YouTube channels;
- Increase the accessibility of the publishers’ content - by collaborating on the distribution of the publishers original content on mobile platforms, in particular smartphones and tablets;
It's good to see the whole thing settled, but, really, the settlement itself seems somewhat silly. Google's agreement to buy advertising with those publishers is the "payoff" bit (apparently to the tune of approximately $6 million -- and which allows both sides to claim "victory"), but the focus on effectively teaching the publishers how to "do internet stuff" just shows how ridiculous the original lawsuit was in the first place.
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