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Google CEO Eric Schmidt to newspaper moguls: don't "piss off" readers by charging for content
Google CEO Eric Schmidt has a harsh warning for newspapers wanting to remove content from Google

Fox News mogul Rupert Murdoch recently called for news websites to start charging readers.  He blasted Google, stating, "The question is, should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyright... not steal, but take. Not just them but Yahoo."

Google News has long been one of the most popular news aggregators, gathering news from the likes of the Associated Press, The New York Times, and Reuters.  All of this content is offered to readers for free, though readers provide a steady source of advertising revenue that frequently surpasses that of print news.  But that just isn't enough, according to Mr. Murdoch.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has offered up a fiery rebuke to Rupert Murdoch's comments.  He states, "
I would encourage everybody to think in terms of what your reader wants.  These are ultimately consumer businesses and if you piss off enough of them, you will not have any more."

Mr. Schmidt says that Google's content is "fair use", stating, "
From our perspective there is always a tension around fair use and fair use is a balance of interest in favor of the consumer."

He thinks that newspapers and magazines initially pushed for open web access, but are now turning their backs on this pro-customer mentality.  He states, "
You guys did a superb job, and the act after that is a harder question."

Alexander Macgillivray, Google's intellectual property counsel also admonished Mr. Murdoch's accusations of theft, writing, "Users like me are sent from different Google sites to newspaper websites at a rate of more than a billion clicks per month.  These clicks go to news publishers large and small, domestic and international - day and night.  And once a reader is on the newspaper's site, we work hard to help them earn revenue. Our AdSense program pays out millions of dollars to newspapers that place ads on their sites, and our goal is that our interest-based advertising technology will help newspapers make more from each click we send them by serving better, more relevant ads to their readers to generate higher returns."

As to accusations that readers only peruse Google News and don't travel to the source sites, he adds, "In all cases, for news articles we've crawled and indexed but do not host, we show users just enough to make them want to read more - the headline, a "snippet" of a line or two of text and a link back to to the news publisher's website."

Ultimately the battle between Google and news moguls may heat up as the economy continues to struggle.  After years of glutting themselves on a steady diet of subscriptions and advertising, the print news business is seeing advertising move online and subscriptions disappearing.  Afraid of this change, many of the news industry's biggest offline players may lash out at the likes of Google, but ultimately they may just be biting the hand that feeds and worsening their plight.

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Rupert has a point
By segerstein on 4/8/2009 4:04:45 PM , Rating: -1
The likes of Google make a handsome profit out of others intellectual property. That's the problem.

If you use Google News, then you just check an article, and don't spend much time on the actual news site. This kind of traffic is a bad traffic, since users don't visit the front page.

If newspapers bleed money - just look at Tribune, NTY etc - then - who is actually going to do any quality reporting, not just rehashing stories? Or oversight of local government? These things cost real $$$, as well as time and effort. Is it going to be bloggers? DailyKos? The fourth branch of government is disappearing.

RE: Rupert has a point
By nafhan on 4/8/2009 4:15:49 PM , Rating: 5
An alternative point of view is that many people would not go to those news sites at all if they were not linked from Google news. Thus they are receiving more page views than they would otherwise.

If the news "moguls" want people to stay and browse their sites instead of using news aggregators, they need to create compelling, exclusive content.

In other words, people want compelling content, not lawsuits and legislation to prop up a failing business model.

RE: Rupert has a point
By segerstein on 4/8/09, Rating: -1
RE: Rupert has a point
By Spuke on 4/8/2009 5:12:50 PM , Rating: 4
This "intellectual piracy" will ultimately cause a loss of relevant news production.
It's only "intellectual piracy" when you're not making any money, if you're making money hand over fist then it's "all white". I say stop the posturing and take action. If you really think that Google is taking your property, ask them to remove your content. I'm sure they would do so either of their own free will or with a court order.

RE: Rupert has a point
By GaryJohnson on 4/8/2009 5:26:39 PM , Rating: 4
or just use robots.txt

RE: Rupert has a point
By bhieb on 4/8/2009 5:29:06 PM , Rating: 5
So opt-out of google crawling your site. It is quite simple to do I don't see why a court should be involved. It is not like google will crawl your site anyway, just plop the code in and be happy all those clicks will never get to you.

(by you I mean the print moguls of course)

RE: Rupert has a point
By Spuke on 4/8/2009 6:10:08 PM , Rating: 3
So opt-out of google crawling your site. It is quite simple to do I don't see why a court should be involved.
This is even easier. I'm sure he knows this can be done which makes his posturing all the more ridiculous.

RE: Rupert has a point
By nafhan on 4/8/2009 6:16:48 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, local newspapers are an excellent example of "compelling, exclusive content". For the most part, they write their own stories (exclusive), and it's compelling to the target audience, because it involves their community.

Also, what's the point of a news aggregator if the news is only coming from one place?

When I'm trying to find out info about a local event, the local newspaper's website is usually the first place I check.

RE: Rupert has a point
By phxfreddy on 4/9/2009 6:20:31 AM , Rating: 2
Oh yeah bow compelling! Aunt Francies cat had kittens!

Journalists = People good with words....terrible with ideas.

They are some of the biggest adherents in the cult of global warming. We'll be better off without this lame brained crowd.

RE: Rupert has a point
By borowki2 on 4/8/2009 7:15:37 PM , Rating: 2
People who wouldn't go to news sites unless they're directed there by someone else probably aren't particularly demanding. That's a major problem, I think. We end up with the lowest-denominator news. What get reported is sensational stuff or feel-good fluff that draws the attention of the ignorant and ill-informed majority of our population.

RE: Rupert has a point
By murphyslabrat on 4/8/2009 11:07:00 PM , Rating: 2
I don't go to most websites unless directed by Google, but I am extremely demanding. As opposed to a "lowest-denominator" effect, I get multiple coverages of everything, including the best coverage indexed by Google.

RE: Rupert has a point
By iFX on 4/8/2009 4:16:01 PM , Rating: 1
However much the folks in media might think and wish they are the fourth branch of government the simple fact is, they are not and never will be.

I do agree though, Google is raking in the cash promoting other people's content which they had no part in creating. They also don't feel they need to pay anything to the content creators either and then they get pissed when the creator says "enough is enough."

RE: Rupert has a point
By bhieb on 4/8/2009 4:56:20 PM , Rating: 4
Google pays them by sending them "free" readers that would not look at thier site otherwise. And if they don't like it put the code in to stop them from crawling it. Most big search engines have an OPT-OUT method.

RE: Rupert has a point
By JasonMick on 4/8/2009 4:16:30 PM , Rating: 2
I absolutely disagree with your assessment of online journalism as "fake reporting".

For just a few examples -- look at DailyTech's Kris Kubicki's scoop on payola in hardware journalism, Anandtech's constant first hand testing and reviews, or MMA site Sherdog's recent investigative piece on the UFC trying to cut out managers (which prompted Dana White to make a raving blog post).

Online journalism unquestionably has the potential to be just as great as offline journalism.

Your analysis entirely takes for granted that for every Tribune, etc., there's countless local newspapers that print stories that are trash, or recycled from other papers/magazines.

And in my opinion online journalism has the potential to be even greater as more people can reach and find it -- for free -- than print journalism.

RE: Rupert has a point
By iFX on 4/8/09, Rating: -1
RE: Rupert has a point
By JasonMick on 4/8/2009 4:27:10 PM , Rating: 4
No, it is free.
You choose if you want to click on an ad. Or even if you want them in the first place (adblocker, noscript).

Obviously I'm not inferring that online news is nonprofit. But its free of charge to the reader. Its just a mutually beneficial arrangement when it comes to advertising.

True a lot of print publications, are available at your local Borders, or book shop, but typically you'll have to buy a coffee to loiter around.

RE: Rupert has a point
By Jimbo1234 on 4/8/2009 5:15:02 PM , Rating: 2
And you have to pay your ISP to loiter the net as well.

RE: Rupert has a point
By phxfreddy on 4/9/2009 6:23:29 AM , Rating: 2
Ironic point made well. News is best done in a distributed fashion. Currently we have people who are "too important" in the news industry. They use this to lever excessive influence and thereby profits.

Fact is the whole system of democracy works better if we all do our part. Sounds like web 2.o to me!

RE: Rupert has a point
By bhieb on 4/8/2009 4:53:31 PM , Rating: 2
The money Google makes is beside the point it is optional there are methods to have Google NOT crawl your site.

Put the greed where it belongs squrely on the shoulder of the print moguls. They want the free readers, but don't want to pay anything for it. Their payment is the sharing of their IP, by choice BTW there is no one forcing you to let any search engine crawl your page (they could, but most of the big ones have an opt out method including google).

RE: Rupert has a point
By MrBowmore on 4/8/2009 5:15:04 PM , Rating: 1
Just do the goddamn sites in flash and voílla! not a word can be indexed.

RE: Rupert has a point
By mindless1 on 4/9/2009 12:44:24 AM , Rating: 2
Flash will drive off even more people, and it's only a matter of time till someone puts together an app that does character recognition in flash if they tried it.

RE: Rupert has a point
By stromgald30 on 4/8/2009 5:58:03 PM , Rating: 2
Why is visiting the front page critical? Can't Fox or other sites simply put ads on the sides of their articles? If Google was reproducing whole articles on their own site with their own ads, that would be a problem, but just linking to them isn't.

If Fox or any other newspaper feels the monetary crunch of losing hard paper sales, then they should increase the cost of putting ads on their site. Of course, if there are too many news websites, ad space becomes more of a commodity and news websites can't increase ad space costs. All that really means is that there's too many news websites and some need to go out of business.

This all makes a lot of sense if you think about how the internet is making things more accessible. With news sources more readily available, there doesn't need to be as many news sources.

It's just like how 100 years ago, each town had its own water wheel to generate electricity. But now, there are fewer electricity generating stations per capita because of more efficient power transmission. Rupert Murdoch just needs to suck it up and compete.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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