Today, Google News will begin offering
articles from several major wire services and news agencies hosted on its own
site, rather than sending readers away from Google. The move is part of
licensing agreements that have been stuck over the past year. Google News is
also promising better duplicate story detection, so that the original source of
a news article should be more likely to get visitors and readers get a better
experience by not stumbling over the same story hosted by different
Google made a much publicized content deal with the
Associated Press last year in the wake of the
agency threatening legal action because of Google News indexing. A similar deal
with Agence France-Presse was made this year,
settling the AFP’s lawsuit against Google.
AFP & Google Settle Over
Google News Copyright Case covers both agreements. Not publicized were two
other licensing deals made over the past year with the UK’s
Press Association and
Canadian Press. All are part of today’s
announcement. Google also has a
known agreement with
some Belgian news groups, and other deals have been
rumored but not come
out — but not of those are mentioned as part of today’s move.
With the AP and AFP, Google said the deals were not made to resolve news
search indexing issues, which it steadfastly maintained fell into fair use, but
rather would cover "new" and more extensive uses of news content beyond fair
use. Still, the only visible benefit for Google to date had been to resolve
legal threats and actions.
Now that changes. Hosting news articles on Google itself was one of the most
likely benefits of these deals, as I explained more in that
AFP & Google settle
article that I mentioned earlier.
When the changes go live today (they should be visible within the next few
hours), people finding articles from AP, AFP, the PA or CP won’t have to leave
Google to read them. Instead, the articles will be shown within Google itself.
This is a big benefit for Google News readers. These wire agencies don’t
generally show many or any of their own articles on their own web sites.
Instead, articles are distributed to a variety of member publications.
here’s an AP article hosted on Forbes that I found on Google News in a
nbc itunes. The same article can also be found in many other places, as you
can see shown in
this special search on Google News. Which one should get the benefit of
Google’s traffic? And are users OK with an experience that constantly changes?
With the change, no particular member publication of these agencies gets an
advantage over the others, and the experience stays consistent. It’s an approach
that Yahoo News has long used, as you can
this article about the NBC-iTunes spat. As part of the hosted pages, Google
will also show stories related to the news articles in the left-hand column, as
well as the duplicates of the story hosted off Google.
One disadvantage to the system at both Google and Yahoo is that after a set
period of time, these articles disappear. Usually, this is after around 30 days.
The wire agencies license the content to appear that long, then the story is
This instability is a chief reason why I almost never point readers to
content at Yahoo News. I don’t want complaints from readers that a URL is no
longer working. The same for me will hold true with Google News.
Even more irritating is that the articles will NOT disappear from some member
publications. For example, I can almost always find some AP member hosting
stories that are months old long after they’ve expired from Yahoo News. For
here’s an AP article from last December still live and happy at USA Today.
Nor does this happen in violation of a member agreement — some publications may
simply be licensed to keep the content up indefinitely.
This problem is more an issue for the wire agencies than Google News or Yahoo
News, of course. They need to license the content to stay out indefinitely,
understanding that by doing so, people will be more likely to link to their
content in these places. For Google’s part, it said that it hopes the
Google News Archive Search
will grow to have more of this content. FYI, if an article does expire on Google
News, you’ll get a message saying it has expired, similar to what happens with
Google’s going beyond just hosted news articles as part of this release. The
company also says it will be doing a better job of duplicate detection overall,
so that if there’s the same article from wire agencies it doesn’t have
agreements with, such as Reuters, it should be more likely to point to the
Reuters site than someone running Reuters material.
As a result, those doing searches and news browsing should bring get a
greater variety of sources and opinions, something Google saw as more important
to today’s release than the hosted articles feature.
"That’s the main part of this, that we’re doing better duplicate detection
across the board," said Google News business product manager Josh Cohen.
Finally — what about ads? Google News famously remains one of the few Google
services where ads have yet to come. Many have long supposed this is because
Google fears putting up ads will cause some publishers to view the company as
further "leeching" off their content. With agreements in place for hosted
articles, why not get ads up on them as well?
"Our main focus is making sure the service is as good as possible for the
service, so at this time we’re not looking at ads," said Cohen said.
I joked with Josh about this. Google News is five years old now —
out of beta
for nearly two years — surely it’s good enough for users to let the ads come