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Google: whipping boy for distressed publishers

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Google does not put ads on Google News Pages. But it recently began placing them on Google News search pages (the page you get when you use the search box on the Google News Page).

Could Google News pages be next for ads? Google says no. News companies are not so sure.

And even if Google stays true to its word, the nagging worry of news organizations whose content is indexed on Google News is that for many users the aggregation page is enough of a destination. If you are a skimmer, you get all you need there from reading the extracts of the articles. No need to click through to the original.

Enter the aggrieved parties

As the financial fortunes of news companies have gotten more dire, Google has increasingly been cited as a reason. Rupert Murdoch, MediaNews Group's Dean Singleton, and a host of other publishers have been complaining that Google is using their content but not paying for it.

"Should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyrights?" Murdoch asked.

"We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories," Singleton said.

Do not crawl - Doh!

Google counters that what it is doing is well within the confines of "fair use." It is doing what a librarian would do in providing an index to newspaper content. Yes, it's doing it faster and more conveniently and at a massively more dominant scale -- but it's the same thing.

And besides, if a news organization doesn't want Google to scrape its content, it can make a simple code adjustment on its articles -- a "do not crawl" designation -- and Google steers clear.

No problem.

Also no traffic.

What would AP do?

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