In this press release, the Paris based World Association of Newspapers (WAM), representing a membership of eighteen thousand newspapers worldwide, including AFP, seeks to address the issues facing newspapers resulting from new technologies. In particular, in the WAM press release, WAM discusses the ‘Napsterisation' of newspaper content. More explicitly, the group expresses a desire to counteract "the exploitation" by Google News and other search providers of copyrighted news articles. While Google, Yahoo and other search engines hide behind a guise of social benevolence, WAN asserts that these search engines do not represent "Robin Hoods," but rather highly profit oriented organizations that are seeking to misuse the hard work and copyrighted content of newspapers. Ultimately, WAN seeks to craft a relationship between newspaper publishers and search engines that would prove profitable and legal for both parties involved. WAM appears to understand that newspapers must adopt to technology, but at the same time WAM seeks to have that adaptation involve compensation by the search engines to the newspapers.
As a reflection of WAM's ultimate objective, Google and the Associated Press agreed to a deal in August of 2006 that would compensate AP when Google News used its assets. Google justified the deal with AP in that the AP content licensed Google assets would complement Google News. Google News would remain a news aggregator that linked to news sites, which Google adamantly considers a fair use.
Similarly, in November of 2006 Yahoo! struck a deal with over 150 United States newspapers. The agreement announces that Yahoo's technological leadership, specifically search, advertising and infrastructure, will be partnered with the leading newspaper content in the United States. The partnership plan will allow Yahoo! users access to personalized local news, such as classifieds.
As evidenced by these deals, the presence of Google News and Yahoo! should ultimately make newspapers more profitable, not less. Users should click through links on Google News and on Yahoo! more frequently than before, thus, raising the page views, revenue and attractiveness of newspapers. Although the recording industry may have been technically correct on the copyright violations Napster committed, ultimately by not adopting to technology changes, the recording industry has been eroded and not been the driver of change. News services and newspapers must consider how to adapt to changes brought on by technology, not merely fight changes technology brings.
Schmidt, Eric. “Conversation with Eric Schmidt Hosted by Danny Sullivan,” interview by Danny Sullivan (9 August 2006) (http://www.google.com/press/podium/ses2006.html) (last accessed 26 November 2006).
In this interview of Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, by Danny Sullivan at the Search Engine Strategies Conference, Schmidt discusses issues facing Google. He addresses everything from click fraud to protecting user private data. Ultimately, Schmidt underscores Google commitment to provide to Internet users the most relevant information, whether it is news, ad-content or search results. He does confess to a new emphasis on profitability.
Most relevantly, Schmidt addresses the pending lawsuit with AFP. Schmidt asserts that Google understands and wants to be sensitive to various conceptions of rights and copyrights. Schmidt also admits that there is an underlying ambiguity associated with fair use but appears to remain firmly committed to Google’s definition of fair use. Schmidt asserts that Google’s use of parts or snippets of copyrighted materials, like books and news, is not only fair use, but a vital research and knowledge tool. In the interview, Sullivan, expressly asks Schmidt about the AFP lawsuit, and whether the deal between Google and the Associated Press was made to “solve a legal issue.” Interestingly, Schmidt answers that for Google, litigation is just another way of making a business deal. In other words, the AFP lawsuit was not unexpected, but rather something Google understood might occur given its new use of technology. The deal between Google and AP addresses these same issues in a different way – a way that attempts to foreclose litigation and to reach an amicable resolution of essentially the same issue.
Despite its altruistic mission of making relevant knowledge available worldwide, Google is ultimately a profit making corporation. Schmidt’s comments reveal that Google’s rise from search engine to a dominant corporation rests in its aggressive and liberal interpretation of fair use. Thus, the dispute with AFP could be settled if Google could reach a satisfactory monetary agreement with AFP as it did with the AP. No matter what social cause the EFF or other bloggers ring regarding the global importance of Google and free speech and the public’s right to knowledge, Google is just another company trying to impress its shareholders with its profitability.