Thursday, December 3, 2009

Google draws flak over online 'crumbs'; Sydney Morning Herald, 12/4/09

Sydney Morning Herald; Google draws flak over online 'crumbs':

"Search engine giant Google came in peace to a gathering of world newspaper editors and executives in India, but was soon embroiled in a battle over internet copyright.

``Please don't shoot. I am unarmed,'' Google senior vice president David Drummond told participants at the World Newspaper Congress on Thursday, where his company has been vilified as a parasite sucking the life blood from mainstream journalism.

Addressing the final session of the three-day congress in the southern city of Hyderabad, Drummond, who is also Google's chief legal counsel, sought to counter the charges of ``stealing'' stories from online newspaper websites and not sharing advertising revenue.

``Talk of us as 'vampires' and 'kleptomaniacs' is wide of the mark,'' said Drummond, who argued that Google had taken various steps to address newspaper industry concerns that its content was being exploited online.

On Tuesday, Google announced it would let publishers set a limit on the number of articles people can read for free through its search engine, and the following day it launched a ``news-specific crawler'' that lets online media automatically keep stories, photos or video out of its index.

But Gavin O'Reilly, president of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) dismissed such measures as ``handouts and crumbs'' and said his members would only be satisfied with Google's ``unambiguous acceptance'' of copyright principles.

``Copyright is not an intellectual abstract. It is the law,'' O'Reilly said during an on-stage debate with Drummond.

Google's popular news aggregator website Google News has drawn fire from a number of newspaper owners for linking to their articles without payment.

The Internet search and advertising heavyweight counters that it is providing newspapers a free service by driving readers to their websites - an argument dismissed by O'Reilly.

``We are told: 'Don't complain. Aren't we bringing you the traffic?'. But I can't take traffic to my bank manager,'' he said."

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