Google agrees to pay wire agency for news content

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The Independent Online

In what might be a breakthrough victory for traditional news media nervous about the emerging power of Google News, the pioneering search engine company has agreed to pay Associated Press for some of its news stories.

AP, one of the world's biggest news agencies, has tied up a deal to provide Google with stories, features and other pieces for inclusion on the its site.

Google, though, was insisting yesterday that the use of the extra content from AP will be kept separate to the Google News service. The deal does not create a precedent and other providers whose stories turn up on Google News should not expect to be paid, said spokeswoman Sonya Boralv.

Google News gathers news stories from more than 4,500 global sources and lets users search for them by typing relevant words into a small text box.

Google insists it is simply operating a news-focused version of its ubiquitous search engine, providing little more than headlines and links to stories on other websites. While Google says the publishers of news sites should be grateful for the traffic, many industry executives believe its operations are tantamount to copyright infringement.

The French government-backed Agence France Press sued Google last year for copyright infringement, and is seeking to block how Google News links to the international wire service's news stories, headlines and photographs. The lawsuit remains in procedural stages in the US.

By contrast, Reuters, a rival of both AP and AFP, works actively with Google to promote its news stories on Google News. Google and Reuters have a partnership by which Reuters provides a variety of news, information and data to Google Finance, a separate financial site.

Google's new deal with AP appears to be structured to avoid litigation between the two sides. Jane Seagrave, vice president of new media markets at AP, told the Wall Street Journal: "Most of the big new superpowers on the web aren't spending any money on content creation, and that's what many of us in the traditional media do best. It's a very powerful partnership if you can get the business model right."

Google senior litigation counsel Michael Kwun said his company believes "fair use" protections and copyright law protect Google's rights to link to news sites' content.

"Google has always believed that content providers and publishers should be fairly compensated for their work so they can continue producing high quality information," said Ms Boralv. "We are always working on new ways to help users find the information they are looking for, and our business agreement with the Associated Press is one example of that."

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