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
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