Publishers Team Up Against Search Engine Heavyweights

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Newspaper and book publishers concerned that search engines like Google and Yahoo have seized control of published material by providing “unfettered and unpaid access” to generate advertising revenue are fighting back.

According to a Sunday Times report, a group of publishing bodies that includes the European Publishers Council, the International Publishers Association, and the World Association of Newspapers, are planning to develop a software “tag” readable by web crawlers that will specify conditions under which search engines can use published material, including charges and usage restrictions.

Gavin O’Reilly, Chairman of the World Association of Newspapers, explained that the Automated Content Access Protocol “is intended to remove any rights conflicts between publishers and search engines.” He continued, “This industry-wide initiative answers the growing frustration of publishers who continue to invest heavily in generating content for online dissemination and use.”

In response, Google felt that publishers misunderstand what search engines do, as they help to direct web traffic to published material, thus increasing audiences for advertisers.

“What we are doing is entirely consistent with copyright law, which encourages limited use of other people’s content without their permission,” said a Google spokeswoman.

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