Friday, October 19, 2012

Newspapers in Brazil want Google to pay them for the right to list their headlines; Google refuses, so association recommends members opt out of search results

There is a scene in Ken Burn's documentary The Civil War when the author Shelby Foote recounts a battle scene. A general has just foolishly led his troops into a bad position and another general, seeing the folly, says "watch, he'll come falling back" (or something to that effect).

That scene came to mind when I read of the recommendation by the National Association of Newspapers in Brazil to have its members pull out of Google – withdrawing their headlines from the search engine over their demand that Google pay the newspapers for the right to their content. They will see their folly and come falling back, too.

The newspapers believe, rightly, that Google is competition. Newspapers see the giant search engine as profiting from their work.

“Google News benefits commercially from that quality content and is unwilling to discuss a remuneration model for the production of these materials,” said ANJ president Carlos Fernando Lindenberg Neto told the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas in justifying the recommendation.

Yes, that is true. But believing that Google will pay newspapers for the privilege of including their material in its search results is truly naive. Their argument is that displaying their headlines in search results "reduces the chances that they will look at the entire story in our web sites.”

Google has wisely decided to not respond to the story that the papers will boycott their services. Let them, there are plenty of other sources of news so we can expect the papers to fall back once the artillery barrage begins.

If newspapers wanted to demand compensation from Google the time to do so would have been when the search engine started up. But newspapers were thrilled to see their content displayed in the upstart's results.

Last year's revenue at Google was $73.9 billion, with margins exceed 25 percent. When the print media business starts producing results like that then Google will listen. Until then all they will hear is silence.

This is how The Telegraph described a recent move by Rupert Murdoch concerning withdrawing headlines from Google:
Rupert Murdoch has been forced to back down in his war with Google, amid fears that his newspapers are losing their influence because they do not appear in the search engine’s rankings.
'Nuff said.