Newspapers target Google in copyright dispute

By : |January 31, 2006 0

Adam Pasick

DUBLIN: A group representing global newspaper publishers has launched a lobbying campaign to challenge search engines like Google that aggregate news content.

The move comes as the newspaper industry’s traditional business model is under pressure with advertising spending shifting away from print and toward the Internet.

The Paris-based World Association of Newspapers, whose members include dozens of national newspaper trade bodies, said it is exploring ways to “challenge the exploitation of content by search engines without fair compensation to copyright owners.”

Web sites like Google and its specialised Google News service automatically pull in headlines, photos and short excerpts of articles from thousands of news sources, linking back to the publishers’ own site. Google News does not currently carry advertising.

“They’re building a new medium on the backs of our industry, without paying for any of the content,” Ali Rahnema, managing director of the association, told Reuters in an interview.

“The news aggregators are taking headlines, photos, sometimes the first three lines of an article — it’s for the courts to decide whether that’s a copyright violation or not.”

The campaign comes as a pending U.S. court case pits Agence France Presse against Google. AFP sued the company last year, alleging that Google News carries its photos, news headlines and stories without permission.

“Everybody will be watching that case very closely,” Rahnema said.
The World Association of Newspapers said it would seek a meeting with European Commission officials and look into whether the news aggregators are infringing on their copyrights or brands.

“It’s not intended to shoot one over the bow, it’s to take a group of people to look at the issue, and look at what options are open to our members,” Rahnema added. “The purpose of this isn’t to attack Google, but to say that as an industry we don’t feel OK with you taking the content and seeing what happens.”

Google — which is facing a similar copyright dispute with the book publishing industry — has worked in partnership with some newspapers, serving ads to the Web site of the New York Times and selling classified ads for the print edition of the Chicago Sun-Times in a pilot project.

Reuters Group Plc is an associate member of the World Association of Newspapers.

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