Google. Not a Media Giant?

The recent settlement with Google will take a long time still before we feel all the effects but what it proves is that copyrights mean something. And it serves to remind us that Google began life as a search engine, not a content provider.

With the invention of the internet, came the idea that content should be free. Consumers like to consumer free content. But, as many in the publishing industry have come to realize almost too late, it is not free to produce. And what can be produced for free, lacks the editorial filters to ensure quality.

For a long time newspapers and magazines have produced content for the web that was dependent on ad sales in order to generate revenue. This has led to massive job cuts, despite the added work, because ad sales are down in todays economy.

Peter Osnos said it best when in his article “The Platform: Make Google Pay – information is not free” he says,

the major point is that Google has now conceded, with a very large payment, that information is not free. This leads to an obvious, critical question: Why aren’t newspapers and news magazines demanding payment for use of their stories on Google and other search engines? Why are they not getting a significant slice of the advertising revenues generated by use of their stories via Google?

Indeed, newsgroups need to consider getting together on this issue. The problem is that newsgroups tend to be in more direct competition (for ad sales, etc) then book publishers and authors. So they haven’t been able to band together in the same way – but they need to, or it may spell their failure as an industry.

The problem here is that so many people on the web LIKE Google reposting their content for free – consider for a second my favorite publishing newsletter, Bosacks. Robert Sacks, it’s creator and editor, browses tons of blogs and sends out the most interesting stories from each. When I asked him via email if he had ever had any issues with copyright, he wrote that people complained he didn’t use their work often enough. People like exposure. So no one newsgroup can go after Google alone, or their competitors will still be freely accessible, and they will be spelling their own end. (Could you imagine if all but one newspaper was available for free through a Google search? Consumers would never see that one source). Instead, they need to seek compensation for money made off their work.

I’m not saying that Google shouldn’t be allowed to repost their work. Otherwise, no one would read it. However, if Google is making a profit without the costs, in order to ensure that the content is still there and of the same quality to continue generating a profit, Google should share revenues. Or, merely provide links back to the original content as it does with so many other types of information.

Other articles on this:
Google Book Settlement and what it means for Authors
PW Announcement of Settlement
AAP Announcement (they helped broker the deal)

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