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MEDIA - AFP - GOOGLE NEWS LAW SUIT

 

AFP sues Google for $17.5 million

BY A CORRESPONDENT

March 20, 2005 :  Leading international news and graphics provider Agence France Presse (AFP) has sued Internet search engine giant Google alleging copyright violations. In a suit filed in a Washington Court, the Paris-based based news conglomerate claimed that Google is infringing on its copyrights by posting news from the AFP website on the Google News beta website.

Ironically, the news of AFP suing Google was one of the top news items on Google News website for the whole of Sunday.

AFP claims that despite being asked to cease and desist from publishing AFP news on Google News, Google ignored the request. The AFP website puts up news stories for the public, which is free, whereas subscribers can access the AFP wire stories and pictures only on subscription. The same practice is followed by Reuters and Bloomberg, which have separate, detailed sections for paid subscribers.

Google News electronically scans news websites and displays a snapshot of the aggregated news, giving a link to the website from where the news is sourced. Google News website says that about 4,500 news sources are scanned to make Google News. Recently, Google News introduced an option to customise the news page. www.news.google.com commands a Page rank of 9 out of 10 in Google-designed Page ranking system.

This is not the first time that Google is getting into a mess for sourcing and displaying content from other websites. A few months back, Perfect 10, a US-based magazine had filed a suit against Google for displaying hijacked versions of photographs from its magazine on Google News.

The Google backer's point of view:

There is nothing wrong with the Google News practice of sourcing content from others. Besides AFP, Google News also sources content from other online content providers like Reuters, Bloomberg etc, who are rivals to AFP. Since none of them seem to be having a problem with Google showing their content, AFP is getting unnecessarily touchy about their content. AFP cannot claim $17.5 million in damages because Google News has not sold its news to make money. Since the traffic from Google was directed to AFP's own site (where news is uploaded for public viewing), AFP if at all, should be paying Google.

The AFP-backer's point of view:

Whether Google News displays one paragraph, one headline or one snapshot picture is irrelevant. It is copyrighted material from AFP's website. It should be republished only with AFP's permission. Since Google has ignored AFP's request to stop publishing the news, it has a strong case to go ahead. The AFP website does not make money through advertising, unlike most other news publishers on the Net. So, the higher traffic driven to its site by Google News has no impact on its business. Google News turns popular piggybacking AFP news, and makes money from advertisers for its search engine service. News is put up on the AFP website for public viewing, not to be reproduced elsewhere.

Besides Google News, Yahoo News also aggregates content from several web publishers and puts them up for web surfers.

BY A CORRESPONDENT

 

 

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