Publishers challenge online 'kleptomania'

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The Independent Online

Newspaper, book and magazine publishers have come together to protect their content against the "kleptomania" of internet search engines.

A task force of industry publishing associations will seek compensation for the use of their content by Google and other search engines. They will also seek meetings with regulators and lawmakers, including officials at the European Commission.

Gavin O'Reilly, the president of the World Association of Newspapers, said Google was the worst transgressor. "If you subscribe to the Ten Commandments, Google operates with only nine, leaving out 'thou shalt not steal'," said Mr O'Reilly, who is also the chief operating officer of Independent News & Media, publisher of The Independent. "This isn't all-out war at all. It's about a having a commercial relationship between content originators and content aggregators."

Newspapers are concerned that the news services of search engines carry the headline and part of the story from news providers, without permission or payment. Google claims it allows news organisations to "opt out" of Google News.

AFP, the French news agency, is locked in a legal battle with Google over the use of its news stories and pictures. Book publishers are suing Google over its plans to make available all published books.

Separately, a report byDeutsche Bank said the impact of broadband internet services was "materially" negative across the media sector, and that newspapers were the worst hit. Deutsche said with two major newspaper publishers having announced plans for divestment, there were "signs of a Torschlusspanik... the moment when everyone rushes for the door at once".