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Fight between Google and MSM approaches

Roy Greenslade has picked up on Telegraph editor Will Lewis’s opening address at the 6th International Newsroom Summit and thinks it implies that the Telegraph group is going to follow other mainstream publishers into battle against Google.

According to ifra, Lewis called on newspapers to welcome transformation as a friend. The traditional business model would be replaced and he warned news organisations making the digital transition must both invest in training and be alert to attempts to cannibalise their material. He continued:

Our ability to protect that content is under consistent attack from those such as Google and Yahoo, who wish to access it for free. These companies are seeking to build a business model on the back of our own investment without recognition; all media companies need to be on guard for this. Success in the digital age, as we have seen in our own company, is going to require massive investment; [we need] effective legal protection for our content in such a way that allows us to invest for the future.

It would seem to be an obvious step for publishers to follow those who have reached agreements with the secretive Google company. It is difficult to build a picture of what is happening but Lewis’s speech follows one earlier this month by Samuel Zell, new owner of the huge Tribune group in the US .

In a speech (Washington Post) at Stanford Law School he said newspapers could not economically sustain the practice of allowing their articles, photos and other content to be used free by other Internet news aggregators.

He asked the question: “If all of the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content, how profitable would Google be?” and provided his own answer: “Not very.”

Associated Press has an agreement with Google and a copyright case brought by Agence France-Presse was settled recently. In Belgium cases have either resulted in settlement or a finding against Google.

As Greenslade points out these are piecemeal agreements and, “Globally, publishers and news agencies need to get together to reach a sensible, comprehensive, macro agreement with Google and Yahoo.”

It will certainly be a big fight. As Business Week pointed out recently: “Google is ground zero in a battle among traditional media and tech industry leaders and startups alike for the hearts and minds of the world’s consumers—or at least their eyeballs and wallets. ”


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  1. Andrew Grant-Adamson says

    I should have made it clear that this is about copyright and is more like the way in which the Football Association, seeing the media making money out of sports coverage, charges for fixture lists. There is a good report on the Belgian court ruling here.

  2. Craig McGinty says

    I’m confused. When I look at Google News I don’t actually see any ads:


    When I receive Google Alerts I again don’t see any ads, so are some newspapers not wanting to appear in front of potential readers?

    Or do they not want to appear in Google’s search results as well?

    It is interesting to compare the experience I’ve had when working with purely digital publishers – they were delighted to be included by Google News.

    Let’s face it the internet is going local and mobile, most of which will be found via search and RSS.

    Considering how easy both work, any digital publisher should be looking to embrace both.