October 23, 2012

FIGHT: Google vs French and Brazilian media


Media bodies in both France and Brazil have started scraps with Google lately over its use of their news content. Most worryingly: in France there’s a danger that news content will be removed from search listings, after a new law was proposed demanding that Google pay a fee to news sources for use of their content (headline and opening lines) in search results. Google, unsurprisingly, is not playing ball — it responded by saying that it would simply remove French media sites from its search listings.

Meanwhile in Brazil the National Association of Newspapers has opted out of the Google News platform, arguing that there are too few click-throughs from the Google News homepage to be worth their while. Again, they’re withholding the use of their content, but in this instance it’ll still appear in Internet searches — only the Google News homepage will be unable to use the copy.

This is clearly bad news for readers — especially in the case of France, where much content simply won’t show up in searches on the most popular engine. That would also be bad news for Google, especially where a whole nation’s major media institutions are implicated. If the example of the London Times is anything to go by, it’ll be terrible news for news outlets, too: the newspaper recently opted back in to Google search after realising that it provided 30 to 40 percent of its traffic. Someone’s going to have to back down, and precedent dictates that it won’t be Google.



Ellie Robins is an editor at Melville House. Previously, she was managing editor of Hesperus Press.