March 22, 2005

Trouble for Google News, Maybe Blogs, Too

News organization Agence France Presse has sued Google to insist that they be removed from their news aggregator feed.

... Google is in the process of removing French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) from its Google News service, which aggregates links to online articles and accompanying photos from about 4500 news outlets.

... AFP sued Mountain View, California-based Google in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday of last week. The news agency is seeking to recover damages of at least $17.5 million from Google. AFP also asks the court to forbid Google from including its content in Google News. ...

From the complaint (pdf):

3. Without AFP's permission, Defendant is reproducing and publicly displaying AFP's photographs, headlines, and story leads on Defendant's news aggregation web site found at

I wonder if this decision will be used to come after bloggers? Quite a lot of us act as news aggregators, and often partially reproduce the stories we link to in order to highlight key paragraphs, as I've done in this very post.

Thing is, so long as I'm neither reproducing an article in its entirety, nor claiming it as my own, what's the problem? Their argument strikes me as being equivalent to a person giving a speech and declaring that no one was allowed to quote them. Why does writing words down make their originators immune from having their words conveyed to others by secondary parties, so long as they're accurately represented and sourced?

Corporations want to have personal rights, to be treated like supersized citizens, but they also want to have extra privileges that no person has ever been granted. Unless someone else knows of a public and influential person who's been granted the court ordered right to forbid their words from being repeated by anyone else as a means of discussing what they said.

Of course, the other thing I don't understand is that in an internet landscape where hits mean revenue, AFP is giving up all the eyeballs that a link from Google's popular aggregator can bring. And I wonder what sites that use its stories as part of their paid feed will think about losing those visits.

Posted by natasha at March 22, 2005 08:45 PM | Media | Technorati links |

Well, Scalia has tried something similar, but finally got caught.

Posted by: Scorpio at March 23, 2005 10:32 AM

Since AFP is available on Yahoo!'s news site I think it's more about about Yahoo! vs Google.

Posted by: uptown at March 23, 2005 05:57 PM