Google says it will ask permission from the publisher before it scans old issues

Newspapers want to go digital. This should be no surprise considering that the largest newspapers in the world are looking for ways to cut fixed costs, the majority of which are associated with printing and delivery of their traditional newspapers.

Newspapers are looking to move from the traditional printed paper we are all used to into a digitally delivered content via a device like the Plastic Logic product DailyTech reported on yesterday. In addition to delivering current news digitally, many newspapers are actively looking for ways to monetize their often vast back catalog of issues.

Google announced that it plans to begin digitizing newspaper archives, make them searchable via Google News at first, and later via the newspapers’ own website. Google already archives back issues of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Time. These publications were previously available in digital formats.

The paper digitizing service will make articles printed in the papers searchable by keyword and the articles will be displayed in their full layout as they originally appeared in the newspaper. Google already has a similar operation scanning books. In the book scanning program, Google got into some hot water over its failure to get permission before scanning copyrighted works. Microsoft at one time also ran a book scanning program, which was later halted because the book scanning program didn’t fit with Microsoft's goals.

For the newspaper scanning project, Google is seeking the permission of the newspapers before it scans them. Google plans to monetize the digital papers with ads along with the content. Google says it will share the ad revenue with the newspapers. The savings in scanning costs for papers looking to scan their old issues is often significant.

The New York Times quotes Tim Rozgonyi of The St. Petersburg Times saying, "We looked into it [digital scanning] years back, and it appeared to be exceedingly costly."

Despite the fact that Google would shoulder the compete cost of the scanning project, some newspapers are still dubious of Google according to The New York Times. Analyst Ken Doctor from research firm Outsell said, "The concern is that Google, in making all of the past newspaper content available, can greatly commoditize that content, just like news portals have commoditized current news content."

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
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