European Papers Threaten Google News

Google may soon have to fight another legal battle, as the Paris-based World Association of Newspapers (WAN) announced that it was looking into ways to challenge sites like Google News. The problem lies in the fact that these sites aggregate news content, but in most cases do not pay for access.

The members of the organization feel as if they are due compensation for access to to their content. "The search engines are increasingly aiming their strategic efforts at traditional content originators and aggregators like newspaper publishers," WAN President Gavin O'Reilly said in prepared remarks.

"The irony is that these search engines exist, largely, because of the traditional news and content aggregators and profit at their expense," he added.

O'Reilly called the actions of Google News the "napsterization"' of content, alluding to the long fight between the music download service and the record industry. He also dismissed any talk that these services are acting as some kind of Robin Hood by freeing the content from greedy providers.

"Google, Yahoo and other search engines are not some new breed of social benefactors of information -- they are assuredly commercial," he argued.

One of the organizations first steps in the battle will be to contact Charlie McCreevy, European Union Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, and Ms. Viviane Reding, the Commissioner for Information Society and Media, on possible future legal steps.

It will also explore ways that it could offer its feeds to these services, while recovering some royalty from the use of its content.

The WAN consists of some 73 national newspaper associations across Europe, representing 18,000 newspapers. Analysts say the case would be watched closely by other organizations worldwide, and could lead to similar actions in other regions of the world if successful.

Google has already been sued once; Agence France Presse filed suit over the use of its images on the Google News Web site. The case is still pending in U.S. court.

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