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Google May Limit Free News Access

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the bend-like-a-willow dept.

Google 236

You know how, if you want to read a paywalled newspaper article, you can just paste its title into Google News and get a free pass? Those days may be coming to an end. Reader Captian Spazzz writes: "It looks like Google may be bowing to pressure from folks like News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch. What I don't understand is what prevents the websites themselves from enforcing some limit. Why make Google do it?" (Danny Sullivan explains how they could do that.) "Newspaper publishers will now be able to set a limit on the number of free news articles people can read through Google, the company has announced. The concession follows claims from some media companies that the search engine is profiting from online news pages. Publishers will join a First Click Free programme that will prevent web surfers from having unrestricted access. Users who click on more than five articles in a day may be routed to payment or registration pages."

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I'll wait for the plugin (3, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295368)

Presumably there'll be a cookie to remove, or a BugMeNot account, or a way of creating/managing the 50 accounts needed to read as before.

Re:I'll wait for the plugin (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295590)

Or maybe Wikinews might start getting more popular.

Re:I'll wait for the plugin (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295868)

Or maybe Wikinews might start getting more popular.

The only news you need to know is available at Infowars.com [infowars.com] and PrisonPlanet.tv [prisonplanet.tv] .

--
Real Wishes Granted [real-wishes.com]

Re:I'll wait for the plugin (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296072)

This compendium [youtube.com] of that guy's rants makes me think maybe he isn't going to be my go-to news source...

Re:I'll wait for the plugin (1)

Mortaegus (1688452) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295702)

I hope it's only a cookie, because that would be easy to circumvent. More annoying would be IP tracking, but that just requires a few seconds to reboot the modem. If you need to set up an account and log in then you can just set up multiple accounts. This is just annoying though. I like my news, but I don't like it enough to pay for it. I might only use such services twice a month.

What really pisses me right off about paywalled... (5, Informative)

Smegly (1607157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296114)

Google search, Google scholar etc always turns up paywalled articles outside of the news industry. In particular, research articles. On clicking through your are greeted by a screen to pay for the article, and the keywords that were searched for are not in the summary/abstract presented or even available to see. In effect Google has given me a "hit" on my search then led me to a place where not even the search terms are present... Google crawler has access to it but I do not.

ieeecomputersociety.org, springerlink.com, sciencedirect.com (anything but direct)... the list goes on.

Ok, you might say that they hold all the serious research papers - you might even be right, in some cases. I even understand that maybe just maybe, if I am really desperate, then I might actually want to search for paywalled articles and am prepared to pay the extra information access tax of $20-$40 a for every article. However what google is now doing is wasting their bandwidth and more importantly to me, completely wasting my time by including paywalled articles in top positions of all my search requests. Furthermore, Google does it by default.

I have written to their support, posted on their forums -please Google - if you are listening - MAKE PAYWALLED SITES AN OPTION in my preferences and set it OFF by default. If you think about where it leads: the quality of the future of all our search requests is at stake. Now Google is planning to add News to this time wasting highly annoying practice - and I want to be opted out by default, I am begging you!

Re:What really pisses me right off about paywalled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30296202)

A question: If their crawler has unfettered access to the content then how are they supposed to know that it is a paywalled site? I have read before that if you set your user agent to the same as the Google Crawler that you would get into these sites that allow indexing, but don't allow "users" to browse for free. Not that you should have to do this, but if it does indeed work it really does leave me with "how would Google even know they have a paywall?". I don't expect them to have a staff of people visiting web pages to check. Perhaps they could visit each site they index twice? Once with their normal user agent, and once with it set to say FireFox - and compare the results? But that would cost them a lot in time and bandwidth.

Re:What really pisses me right off about paywalled (2, Informative)

Smegly (1607157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296288)

A question: If their crawler has unfettered access to the content then how are they supposed to know that it is a paywalled site?

They already seem to have identified the culprits of poor search hits. If you select their "shopping sites" as an option then you get majority paywalled articles - so they must have already done the work to identify paywalled articles.

One WORD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30296286)

PROXY

Frist Psot! (5, Interesting)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295374)

Most 'papers like Google and the visitors Google sends them; so the Google Bot and hits with a google.com Referer tend to get a free pass. Use this to your advantage:

  • Google the Article's URI, click the link and off you go (with a real Google referer).
  • If it's not indexed yet and you're using Opera: Go to any Google page, press Ctrl + U, change any one link's href to the article's URI, click "Save Changes", click the link and off you go (with a fake Google referer. This works for any fake referer, by the way).
  • If they're picky, they mightn't let hits from Google through but still allow the Google bot to index their pages. Change your User-Agent accordingly. In Firefox, go to about:config and change general.useragent.extra.firefox to Googlebot 2.1 and off you go (as Googlebot).
  • As a last resort, there's quite a few ad-blocking personal proxies out there. Most of them allow you to fake Referers or change User-Agents, for any browser.

Re:Frist Psot! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295408)

But in practice I just read the news which is easy to get to. For now there is plenty of that and I would be surprised if it becomes significantly harder to get.

Re:Frist Psot! (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295684)

Luckily, BBC News is run on the British TV Licence and can't - by power of it's charter - put adverts or start charging for anything.

Re:Frist Psot! (3, Informative)

asnare (530666) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295784)

Luckily, BBC News is run on the British TV Licence and can't - by power of it's charter - put adverts or start charging for anything.

... if you're in the UK. The BBC already show advertisements if you're viewing from outside the UK.

Re:Frist Psot! (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295932)

For the first time I have a reason to want to VPN /into/ the UK. But not a big one thanks to AdBlock.

Re:Frist Psot! (1)

EasyTarget (43516) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296166)

Unfortunately the ads in bbc video are inline.. (but adblock works great against the ones on their pages)

Re:Frist Psot! (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295796)

Luckily, BBC News is run on the British TV Licence and can't - by power of it's charter - put adverts or start charging for anything.

Only true if you're accessing it from the UK. They can -- and do [bbc.co.uk] -- add advertising if you're browsing from the rest of the world.

Re:Frist Psot! (2, Interesting)

mrpacmanjel (38218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295448)

Or visit other freely available news-based sites across the internet!

As far as I understand a newspaper will allow you to read x number of articles before you are redirected to a login/payment page then it is up to you to pay for it or go elsewhere.

At the end of the day it all depends on how much you are charged and how.

It's worth a try - charge too much and people just won't pay and will you still get adverts even though you have paid for the article or subscription?

Re:Frist Psot! (4, Insightful)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296376)

Indeed, why bother doing the acrobatics to work around it. I read BBC news, a few local newspapers, a couple of sites like slashdot and a few decent blogs to catch up on whats going on. If Murdoch wants to get people paying for what is free elsewhere, he'll discover how the internet routes around damage, at which point he'll either back up and try to find some other payment model, or he'll fold.

Re:Frist Psot! (0, Troll)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296424)

The BBC's content is very much paid for. They just don't need a Murdoch-esque figure running around because they enjoy the inexplicable support of many of the British public for their biased reporting.

Re:Frist Psot! (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296552)

Even more inexplicably, large parts of the British public supports Murdoch newspapers like The Sun.

The homepage [thesun.co.uk] is funny, until you remember this is the only source of news for many people.

Re:Frist Psot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295502)

With Firebug you can modify the page on-the-fly.

Re:Frist Psot! (3, Insightful)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295542)

It seems to me that the people that advertise in newspapers would feel as though they were willing to pay more for ads if the newspapers would put the entire content online. Restricting access will turn around and bite the newspaper industry. The will rue th day they thought of restricting access.

Re:Frist Psot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295556)

that's exactly why they don't want to block google from they pay wall, to lure user to their registration form.

they're the ones messing with internet protocols (robots, anyone?) and they deserve to be shafted.

Re:Frist Psot! (5, Insightful)

kars (100858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295612)

Well, that's the other side of the coin; if I'm willing to pay for my news, will I finally be rid of all the ads? I think not.

Re:Frist Psot! (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296084)

The way cable tv has gone makes me suspect that paying will indeed just get you the same ads as before (or more!), but at a higher cost to you.

Re:Frist Psot! (1)

mike2R (721965) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296162)

Restricting access will turn around and bite the newspaper industry. The will rue th day they thought of restricting access.

They have to do something - they are haemorrhaging money at the moment. If you know what that something is then you can make a shit-load from that idea.

The problem is simply that the shift to online has had a drastically bad effect on their advertising revenue. They have two options: 1) cut costs - this means cutting journalists, and essentially stopping being a serious news outlet, ie just become yet another website that rewrites other websites and press releases. 2) Raise more revenue. I'm sure they would love to do this from advertisers in the traditional way, but you can't force people to pay more than they want to to advertise with you, so that leaves trying to get money from readers.

If you think Murdoch et al don't understand the risks of this then you are a fool; hence why he has been making noises about paywalls rather than actually doing it, but they have to get money from somewhere.

Re:Frist Psot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295614)

Your not First, and your not even right... Changing Referrers won't change anything.

Current Situation:

- Google kicks you out of the index if you change the content a user sees, vs. the content the googlebot sees. for news-pages they added a program which allowed content owners to make that differentiation, as long as people with google-refferer still see the page as if they were to google bot

new situation:

- Content Owners are now allowed to change this behaviour, so visitors only see the page like the google bot the first 5 times a day. after that, google allowes them to be treated different (like, requiring a subscription, different landing page etc)

I doubt Google won't give content owners more sophisticated ways to identify google other than the user-agent... (they probably can already feed google news through an api or so)

Re:Frist Psot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295666)

Aghhhh... Double negitive
"I doubt Google won't give"...

"I expect Google will give"...
ah, thats better

Re:Frist Psot! (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296268)

Aghhhh... Double negitive "I doubt Google won't give"... Actually if you go back a few hundred years, you'll find it wasn't uncommon to find usage of "doubt" in literature as obviously meaning "believe" or "expect".

Re:Frist Psot! (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295852)

I know I wasn't, but at least I tried, aye? ;)

About the API, I'm guessing that it'll focus on feeding Google News, including News results in Google Web Search, but not GWS itself. I'm also guessing that many a publisher will be too lazy to make the 5 articles a day properly and instead just stick to the behaviour where coming from or being Google gets you the full text for free, but anything else (including clicking any of the internal links you see on that free page) would go behind a paywall. Should my guess prove true, the methods as described above will get you free full articles.

And for those papers who actually implement a five-a-day-free, it'll either be done with cookies (flush 'em for another five free stories), your IP address (reset your router, use TOR, use CoralCDN (.nyud.net), use a proxy) or tied to your Google Account (very unlikely, but solvable with more Google Accounts.)

Re:Frist Psot! (-1, Troll)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295616)

Mod parent up! :)

Re:Frist Psot! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295748)

Mod parent -5, National Security attacks

-US Government.

May (Not) Work (1)

yakatz (1176317) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296658)

If they're picky, they mightn't let hits from Google through but still allow the Google bot to index their pages. Change your User-Agent accordingly. In Firefox, go to about:config and change general.useragent.extra.firefox to Googlebot 2.1 and off you go (as Googlebot).

Doing something like this (showing different content by user-agent) is against Google's terms-of-service and can cause your site to be removed from the index.

Google has said that each provider must figure out by itself how to implement this free view limit based on referrer.

Murdoch set up a walled community (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295406)

or just go with the flow.
If your papers have the value of a Vogue or economist economist, its fine.
Making google change its practice world wide it fit in with your paper and ink world is rather silly.
Value add, be faster and better, play a FOX game or sink.

or users behind a NAT (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295412)

"can visit one article a day.."
great thanks

look, either get behind a paywall and disappear or dont!, the rest of us dont really care as we will just get our news from somewhere who doesnt put up walls and doesnt want the web looking like a version of TV

thats why i like the web, its a level playing field and because of that it pisses off big business no end

Re:or users behind a NAT (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296372)

It sounds like things are moving to a much better business model. I'm quite satisfied with Pandora One. A similar business model for Google and others wouldn't be too bad in the end. Just so their are multiple distributors. I don't want to have to use Microsoft for Murdoch and Google for the NY Times.

I'd be quite happy with a fixed-rate news service that paid news providers based on how often their news was read, especially if it contained all news providers.

Re:or users behind a NAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30296594)

Lets say that larger news sites do this, or outright ban Google searches. Three things will happen:

1: People use Bing, or another search engine (unlikely, but could happen. People took a long while to shift from Yahoo to Google, but when they did, they did en masse.)

2: People will pony up the subscriptions for each news site. In this economy where US employment in the Rust belt is *worse* than the Great Depression, and has yet to even slow down the free fall when it comes to unemployment, people are watching their money. I doubt that this option, especially after a decade of people receiving news without charge will fly.

3: People will find other ways. Advertising money is money, and it may not pay for a large business like the WSJ, but it would keep smaller firms who can employ less experienced journalists going.

I'm pretty sure, #3 is in the larger companys' minds. The second they step away from being #1 on Google stuff, there are plenty of other sites that will step in to provide news, official AP wire or no. If pressed, someone with good venture capital behind them might even set up an open clearinghouse paid for by ads. Someone's news article getting hit, they get a big fat revenue check.

What should the big news companies do? There are a number of options. However, they need to remember that people want to get their news from somewhere. Someone out there will fill that void when people wake up, and fire up their web browser to their favorite news aggregator. If news.bigcompany.com doesn't give people their daily fix, there are many other sites that might just end up as the home page, or on the toolbar.

My cynical self thinks that the larger news sites would put some entry in ACTA saying that any news has to be done through the AP wire, or it is considered a criminal offense, as well as mandating that any AP stuff be served wrapped in some heavy DRM.

Great News! Ban the Bad News !!! (1)

star3am (1151041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295438)

I personally think this is such a great move, I'm so sick of newspapers, reporting all the negative stuff. I say Ban them all :) Take the power back !

Who needs Murdoch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295452)

... when we have public broadcasters, such as the BBC [bbc.co.uk] , ABC [abc.com.au] and so.

Re:Who needs Murdoch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295588)

Yea, spot on, who needs alternatives, look at China and North Korea , you just have to switch on the TV to know what you should be thinking ;)

Re:Who needs an alternative (5, Interesting)

Evtim (1022085) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295776)

Who needs an alternative of BBC? They are simply the best out there. I for one am willing to pay their licence even though I do not live in the UK. Just broadcast me all their channels and I'll pay. I have not watched any other television in 9 years. I tried the local channels (Dutch) a few times and got sick by the ads. Can't stand them!

This is... (1)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295456)

the final nail in the coffin of the 'traditional' news dissemination business model. One that relied on having to purchase a physical (print) medium and that has not been able to adapt to the Internet-era. This is also a consciousness-switch of the traditional users: information wants to be free and they want it accordingly. To try to force people to actually pay for content they can have for free (regardless of what Google, Murdoch etc. do), is almost laughable in terms of failing to accept the inevitable. In fact, it will accelerate it.
However, I do wonder about the journalists and writers...what is the way for them to make money if news and stories are only accepted for free? There is a large effort needed to write quality stories...a lot of calling people, driving around interviewing, checking documents etc.pp. So far the newspapers/-agencies were, for a writer, the customers and they paid based on length etc. If they falter, what will happen? Suggestions?

Re:This is... (1)

Mortaegus (1688452) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295766)

Most of the profits of news media come from advertising, not subscriptions. In television, the advertisers know that they will have a large audience when the news plays, and pay a heavy premium to put their ad in that timeslot. The same applies to newspapers. The Sunday paper commands a higher price for advertisers because more people read it.

Re:This is... (2, Interesting)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295770)

I think a model some internet-only news sources are going to follow is that used by Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo. He has taken a blog, and built a political news network out of it with TPM, TPMDC, TPMuckraker and a couple other sites. It's been successful enough for them.

I would also keep an eye on how Salon evolves. They've been at the forefront as well, but not always among the winners. Time will tell...

Re:This is... (2, Insightful)

addsalt (985163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295798)

There is a large effort needed to write quality stories...a lot of calling people, driving around interviewing, checking documents etc.pp

Many people, myself included, won't favor paying for what is passing as news because the stuff above doesn't happen. If there are journalists and writers actually doing in-depth analysis, writing thought provoking stories, with relevant and accurate facts, people will pay for it. Right now, I see more of this is being done in magazines, not newspapers.

Re:This is... (3, Interesting)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296312)

Newspapers were once the only source of information

Then came Radio and TV, and they because the source of in depth well researched information

Then came the Internet, they could have a role as a known reliable source of information

The problem is that the only role they have left is to be a reliable source of in depth news - and my experience is that they are not reliable, cover most stories in a very superficial way, do poor research (mostly from the internet, or direct from press statements) and are not very well written ....

If they were a bit more processional then people would be willing to pay for their content, as it is people will just go elsewhere...

Re:This is... (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296478)

If they falter, what will happen?

Answer: Fark.com . Sites like that, other unbiased sites that aggregate will still have ways to aggregate, and in the comments they will likely link the whole article as text.

Basically one person will get access and give it to everyone else or something. Nobody cares to register or pay, or whatever. This is just trying to make information not free, which is asinine.

Meanwhile, I'm actually quite skeptical that google will buckle here, and of the accuracy of the whole article.

Meaningless concession (5, Interesting)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295464)

People used to get their news by looking for a news brand like BBC or The Times, and reading stuff that was presented under that brand. Now a lot of people look for news under topics that interest them, and skip between news brands doing so. What google is offering to do will have little effect on such news browsers, who will have a choice of several competing free links under their topic of interest. People linking to interesting stories will simply copy and paste the content they wish to discuss.

The print industry is dead and just doesn't know it yet.

Re:Meaningless concession (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295682)

The print industry is dead and just doesn't know it yet.

I really hope that it isn't. If the print industry dies, who's going to spend hours/days/months researching stories and doing proper investigative journalism? Bloggers won't, because they're not paid to do it and generally don't have the time or contacts. Some blogs might be better informed than others, sure, but there is a lack of accountability in the blogosphere (hate that word), where editorial opinion is regularly mixed in with 'facts'.

Of course, you could argue the same for a lot of traditional papers, and in a lot of cases you'd be right. Look at the likes of Fox News or the UK's Daily Mail for evidence of media bias... but there are still a large number of good papers out there that break stories, hold slimy politicians to account and generally do a better job of presenting current affairs to you than any blog I know of. If we lose the print industry, news will suffer and many objectionable people will be given greater freedom to do whatever they like without fear of media attention.

And TV is not the answer.

Re:Meaningless concession (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30296328)

The Huffington Post is already funding a team of investigative reporters. There's nothing magical about print that breeds investigative journalism.

Re:Meaningless concession (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296152)

This is to a large extent the result of AP and Reuters covering most stories "well enough". If AP or Reuters cover a story, thousands of papers, down to po-dunk local papers in the middle of nowhere, have sufficient coverage of the story for many people. So people rightfully don't care about the brand, because a large proportion of the content literally is the same across brands.

Sure, the BBC, NY Times, WSJ, Economist, and a few others have original content. But in most cases, AP/Reuters cover a story well enough, so the demand for additional unique content is not nearly as high as traditional demand for a newspaper was--- when it might have been the only way for every only-sort-of-plugged-in people to get the news. Now you really have to care enough to know why you want a particular paper's extra content, and really care to be willing to pay for it.

I'm not sure how dead the unique-content players are, though. The Economist is notably successful in selling its wares, and the WSJ hasn't been doing terribly either, despite Murdoch's whining.

I for one welcome this (4, Funny)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295506)

Anything which reduces the readership of Murdoch's media is a good thing.

Re:I for one welcome this (3, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295554)

Anything which reduces the readership of Murdoch's media is a good thing.

My God, are you actually suggesting that we murder readers of Murdoch's media?

If so, where do I sign up?

Re:I for one welcome this (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295628)

No, silly. He's really suggesting we gouge out their eyes, so that they may never read Murdoch's media again.

      -dZ.

Re:I for one welcome this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295642)

Awww! I thought we could eat them afterwards? Brains...mmmm

Re:I for one welcome this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295646)

You mean people who buy "the Sun" can read ?

Re:I for one welcome this (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296656)

You mean people who buy "the Sun" can read ?

Articles in The Sun have a reading age of around 7.

What is going one here? (5, Interesting)

Matrix14 (135171) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295508)

I'm still utterly baffled by what's going on here, and neither article seems to answer my questions. Since, in most cases, Google News only displays a snippet of the article (almost certainly fair use?) and then requires readers to click through to the actual web site of the news source to read the rest of the article, what is preventing those sites from implementing whatever access control scheme they feel like? (This should have nothing at all to do with robots.txt or ACAP which is about whether the *Google spider* can see the content, not whether users linking from Google can.) Am I missing some technical point?

TFA says
"Previously, each click from a user would be treated as free," Google senior business product manager Josh Cohen said in a blog post.

So it sounds like (maybe?) the news sites have a policy that says that clickthroughs from Google don't have to be routed through their access control. Why? Is this something Google requires newspapers to do in order to do display links to them on Google News? This seems to be the best theory, but I didn't see anything anywhere that actually said that.

So, in sum, is this a technical or a social/legal/contractual issue, and what, exactly, is it that is preventing these news sites from using their normal access control?

Re:What is going one here? (1)

LEMONedIScream (1111839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295580)

What I don't understand is why Google has to follow robots.txt at all. Is this part of their "do no evil" slogan?

Imagine Bing does get all the exclusivity deals in the world and Google is left with nothing. What would stop them, from just indexing the site anyway? I can't think of anything as it should be up to the website to block/prevent access.

Re:What is going one here? (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295678)

they're not legally obliged to do it - they do it to comply with standards [robotstxt.org] , and I imagine it is to do with their "don't be evil [wikipedia.org] " (not "do no evil" - doing and being have different implications) slogan, since ignoring robots.txt would be exploitative and antisocial.

Re:What is going one here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295768)

google doing no "evil" was shot to hell as soon as their IPO was announced. it's all about $$$ in shareholder pockets now, users don't matter.

Re:What is going one here? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295586)

So it sounds like (maybe?) the news sites have a policy that says that clickthroughs from Google don't have to be routed through their access control. Why? Is this something Google requires newspapers to do in order to do display links to them on Google News?

It's something Google requires any websites to do to be linked at all. If you present different information to Googlebot than to normal users and Google finds out about it, you get kicked out of the Google index. So you have to choose between:

[a] Letting users see the story for free

[b] Showing Google the same login screen as everyone else

[c] Being kicked out of the Google index entirely

It sounds like Murdoch and co have threatened to take path [b], and Google have made concessions.

Re:What is going one here? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296458)

It's something Google requires any websites to do to be linked at all. If you present different information to Googlebot than to normal users and Google finds out about it, you get kicked out of the Google index. So you have to choose between:

This is a lie. Probably 5% of the corporate-site-based results on Google display different information than the cache. Perhaps you can pay google for the right to do this, or perhaps they index certain people who are nonetheless important enough to them, but I regularly get different click-through results. Since there is no obvious way to report this to Google, it's clear that they don't really care. And since Google claims to be a good robot citizen, they would have to use humans to verify such things, because automating the process would require dishonoring robots.txt.

Re:What is going one here? (1)

otter42 (190544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296584)

Sadly, not the case. I regularly run across pdfs that I cannot access because they're behind a paywall. Even if I tell google "filetype:pdf", it still finds them for me. Which, quite frankly, pollutes the results to an extent that I sometimes cannot find the signal (actual readable scientific articles) amidst all the noise (IEEE, JSTOR, etc...).

Re:What is going one here? (2, Insightful)

Mutant321 (1112151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296636)

Exactly, and I think in this case it makes a lot of sense. I formerly worked for a major newspaper, and due to various complicated contracts with different entities, option [c] had to be chosen. I.e. a lot of stuff we de-listed from google (which we didn't want to do), because we couldn't be seen to be (obviously) giving content away, while others were paying dearly for it.

This is distinctly different to the "Google should pay *us* for the privilege of listing our content", which is clearly insane.

Note, obviously there are always going to be ways around registration/subscription, especially if you have n clicks free, which is probably going to be cookie based... but these require a bit more technical know how, and could be seen as being on less stable ground legally, so are acceptable loop holes. But just going via google and getting anything free is a bigger deal. I don't see why news organisations shouldn't have the right to charge for the content they want to charge for. If that business model is flawed, then the market will sort that out, right?

Re:What is going one here? (1)

dotwhynot (938895) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295604)

what is preventing those sites from implementing whatever access control scheme they feel like? (This should have nothing at all to do with robots.txt or ACAP which is about whether the *Google spider* can see the content, not whether users linking from Google can.) Am I missing some technical point?

TFA says

well, users could easily change their useragent to Googlebot, and so be able to see anything the site want Google to see? (though I currently don't see the majority of web users doing that..)

Re:What is going one here? (1)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295716)

The reason it doesn't make sense is because their are multiple players operating from multiple vantage points.

Murdoch talked up the idea of blocking google eventually, where he could easily have done such a thing immediately. There was probably a variety of strategy behind the announcement, but one element may have been to get other news sources in line with the idea. It is the sort of thing that has a high cost for the first adopter (the first guy is leaving a saturated market where people can seemlessly switch to the alternatives) and with no one making the first move, nothing ever happens, but with a touch of collusion it suddenly becomes possible to do.

Google was evidently worried about being left out of the operation, so they rushed to offer an easy solution. It's not that the companies couldn't do it on their own, it's just that amidst their machinations there was a bit of space for google to jump in and assert itself, hopefully keeping anyone from "delisting" from their search engine. (And if they can have their technology involved in the purchasing of these news article, at a later date they may be able to demand a slice of the pie themselves.)

Re:What is going one here? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295884)

IANAL but I think claiming this in the name of fair use is kind of dubious since Google is doing it with profit motive in mind.

Re:What is going one here? (1)

whencanistop (1224156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295916)

The whole standfast up there is misleading. From the BBC article [bbc.co.uk] :

This will only affect websites that currently charge for content.

Currently some websites allow you to see articles that should be hidden behind a paywall barrier for free if you appear to come from Google. It allows them to get their pages indexed in Google and get those users to those pages even though they are hidden to everyone else. They can then try and persuade the users to sign up based on the fact that they can only see 5 pages. It works for the organisations because they have get another marketing source and it works for Google because they get to add more into their index and give their users what they want.

So overall nothing will be changing. Previously if you'd visited five pages on the site and found a sixth through Google news, then you'd be thrown a page asking you to subscribe. Now you get told on the Google News page that you are going to. I, for one, am not that impressed because I don't go to those sites anyway.

Why make Google do it? (4, Interesting)

krou (1027572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295538)

Easy. Google wants access to the data, and doesn't want to be shut out. Therefore, it's in their interest to implement something that appeases the Murdochs of the world. I don't quite think people understand just how much influence and clout Murdoch (and people like him) have in the world. More fundamentally, from Murdoch's point of view, if Google does it, then the changes can apply to all newspapers, including his competitors. If only Murdoch's news empire does it, then there is less chance of other newspapers following the trend. I suspect Murdoch does not want that many competitors offering free news, and actively wants to encourage the vast majority of newspapers out there to adopt a similar pay-per-view model, because that means that it's a fairly level playing field in terms of competition. So, if you get Google to do it, it encourages everyone else to follow along.

This all reminds me of a nice little lesson from history when the thriving independent press were shut out a few hundred years ago because of spiralling costs. Advertising became the big funder of newspapers back then, and those that attracted the most funding were able to crush all competition. Independents simply couldn't compete with the rocketing costs of machinery, distribution etc. The market became a wonderful tool of censorship. I won't be surprised to see this having a similar effect ie. shutting down a lot of independents who rely on free news for commentary. Difficult to predict, but it's worth thinking about. I hope I'm wrong.

Always knew that having an advertising company as the gatekeeper to knowledge on the internet was a bad idea.

Re:Why make Google do it? (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295676)

Difficult to predict, but it's worth thinking about. I hope I'm wrong.

Nope, this is the end. Sorry about that.

Re:Why make Google do it? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296210)

I dont doubt Rupert's clout or cunning and I think google are doing this as a defensive measure against that potent combination. It could be argued that Google are "stealing" content by bypassing the paywall, an unlocked door is not a licence to walk into a warehouse and take what you want, etc. Not saying that is a logical argument but I'm talking about lawyers not logic. It not going to hurt google's bottom line to defuse that argument by voulentarily gaurding the door of someone else's warehouse.

As to the advertising model, so far it has done nothing except pay for a very large chunk of the infrastructure that is the internet. The world is full of skilled amatures who do things that others demand money for ( re: OSS ) and it's also full of proffesionals who will give content away in order to draw a crowd for their own sponsers. And then there are a surprising number of people like me who are willing to toss a coin into the hat of sites such as slashdot in appreciation of their efforts (I just noticed my last donation has worn off). The barrier to global publishing for said amatures and proffesionals alike is virtually non-existant because they can rent the publishing machinery for a pitance.

This is why google can make money hand over fist indexing other people's content and it's also the reason why paywalled content has been, and will continue to be, a failure (except for quality porn it would seem).

The genie is out of the bottle and has conjured up new moguls, they are not going sit idly by and allow the Rupert's of the world to put their creator back in the bottle. The only people who have the clout to do that are governments (re:China) and even they are restricted by international borders.

Clout? (2, Interesting)

Steeltoe (98226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296242)

People like Murdoch are dinosaurs who can't adapt to the new reality.

Why would anyone pay to access a news site when coming from Google when there's still little to no chance you'll revisit the site again within the next half year or so. How many such sites do you have to pay, to be guaranteed access?

So basically, this is lip service from Google, designed to break Murdochs collusion attempts, rather than have any benefits at all for newspapers. It's not really a solution at all, like micropayments or an all-news subscription would be.

With full access and quality articles, I would actually be ok with paying for online news. But not if I have to pay 20 different vendors..
I seriously doubt Murdoch will be thrilled about this though.. I would expect him to trash this offer.

Pay for news? (2, Interesting)

Boogaroo (604901) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295544)

I would pay for the newspaper from time to time. That meant $.25. Somewhat recently it was increased to $.50 and my purchase of the newspaper was greatly reduced. When they raised the price to $.75 per paper, I stopped buying.
If they charge for online access, I guess I will just stop reading news altogether and just listen to the radio like I have been for the last two years.

Re:Pay for news? (1)

Turzyx (1462339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296134)

I completely agree. Other than a few reputable research journals, I'm not aware of any groundbreaking news reporting being done by any of the 'popular' publications. I can understand paying for a copy of the paper though, when you actually get something tangible in return, but for online news? It's just data, that costs next to nothing to replicate, and more often than not incorporates ads and banners anyway!
 

Guess I'll only read 5 news stories a day then. (1)

Leptok (1096623) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295550)

I mean really eff that, first place my mouse goes to on a registration page is the little X in the corner.

There's an answer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295598)

Bugmenot here we come! Failing free registration, Slashdot hackers please take an interest in Bugmenot!

Censorship (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295626)

Why not let the senile man put a stop to Google's web spider and see how long his rags last without people going to them to read the articles (and ads). If Murdoch thinks people will pay for his content, he will be "surprised" that they won't, that's why The Times became a free online newspaper in the first place, not enough were willing to pay for the content he had locked up in 6 monthly updated CD-ROM article archives (and the one week expiry of news articles before they were "archived").

Re:Censorship (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295788)

The Wall Street Journal is doing fine with a paywall, so it may take some convincing.

How is this even technically possible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295762)

"Users who click on more than five articles in a day may be routed to payment or registration pages."

How? If I don't have cookies turned on (I usually don't), how are they tracking this? By IP number? Anyone with half a brain knows that doesn't correspond to users.

The most likely outcome if they do implement it (effectively or ineffectively) is that fewer people will bother to visit. There are already sites that are paywalled that turn up in Google searches. Once I get to know which ones they are I don't even click on the link when it comes up in the list because I know it's a waste of my time.

Re:How is this even technically possible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295804)

By IP number? Anyone with half a brain knows that doesn't correspond to users.

Perhaps for their purposes it's good enough. Web site access isn't a legal right. This isn't a court case.

I won't read articles can't be read (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295806)

Users can adapt to unneeded contents and eventualy they'll stop apearing online.

Google is profiting from free news pages (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295810)

The concession follows claims from some media companies that the search engine is profiting from online news pages.

Yes, it's called a positive externality [wikipedia.org] . News sites make web pages available, other web sites link to them. What's the problem? That's how the web is supposed to work.

It's important to remember that ... (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295898)

... a big corporate newspaper is like any big corporation. They will strangle any competency they might happen to have in their "IT" department with silly rules, silly procedures, and excessive busywork on pointless efforts to satisfy some big whig in an office no techie would ever be allowed to see. Make their own server smart enough to limit and restrict viewers to just specific content they want to be free? Thousands of Slashdot readers could probably implement and deploy. But it would never happen in those big businesses.

If some newspaper simply wants to NOT allow Google visitors, then Google should just cut them off, entirely, like they don't exist. No news links, no search links, nothing. They don't exist on the net. Maybe these newspapers should see just how much their traffic falls when that happens. Hey, if it doesn't, then it didn't matter.

Re:It's important to remember that ... (2, Funny)

krou (1027572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295922)

.. a big corporate newspaper is like any big corporation.

Was it the word corporate that gave it away? ;)

Addicted to google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295900)

Let's face it: many of us are now addicted and dependent on google on daily basis. Take it away from us 'as is' and it will be disaster, panic, riots, etc..
Some name this the consequence of a monopoly, only for once the subject is not M$, but google. Or Newscorp???

Dont show me the news summaries then (3, Insightful)

secondhand_Buddah (906643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295924)

I think this is fine. But I suggest Google then allow me the option to remove articles that I cannot freely access.

Re:Dont show me the news summaries then (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296226)

Mod parent up +Insightful.

Giving users control is a Good Thing®.

However, since Google seems to have strayed from "Don't Be Evil", I wouldn't look for that feature anytime soon.

Impending failure (1)

UbuntuniX (1126607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295970)

Users who click on more than five articles in a day may be routed to payment or registration pages

Users who click on more than five articles in day may be routed to another news site.

Seems like a good plan (1)

otter42 (190544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296066)

Having read the article, this seems like a reasonable plan. Not only does it push those who read lots to pay, it also leaves some pretty good options for those who want to read lots, but don't want to/can't pay. That's all you can really ask for. These people need to earn a living somehow, and I'd rather they did it writing news articles than working on a factory line.

Here comes a troll or flamebait tag, but ... (3, Insightful)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296086)

Why is this a YRO story? In all seriousness, it's a "newspaper's rights online." They have every right to do with their content what they wish. If they suffer financially for their decisions, then it serves them right. But there's no inherent right to free access to the content they produce.

Re:Here comes a troll or flamebait tag, but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30296504)

Why is this a YRO story? In all seriousness, it's a "newspaper's rights online."

Their rights ? They had them all along, but are trying to force everyone to play the games with rules dreamed-up by them that have got little to do with "rights".

They pretty-much ignore the "robots.txt" method, other than to show Google another set of pages than it does to the user who's depending on Google to show them whats available on the Web.

As an end-result I can see a snippet of an newspaper-article on Google, but when I follow that link I get a "Sign on" page presented instead of the page Google supposedly indexed to.

In short : Murdoch simply abuses Google as a free-of-charge advertising-board, while swindling people to "buy" something and get something else delivered.

A (too?) simple solution ? Let Google spider Murdochs pages not as "GoogleBot 2.1", but as if it would be a random user. All pages that get the (now infamous) "Sign on" result should simply be ignored, with the rest again being a set of pages the user can actually reach, and not the now, in effect, cooked advertising crap it now contains for Murdoch's site(s).

Obama Health Care Ad, WTF??? (1, Interesting)

otter42 (190544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296194)

Did anyone notice that the ad on /. is an anti-Obama ad, that then links to a newsmax "poll"?

photo [googlesyndication.com]

Well, of COURSE if you have that pic, with that message, the only people who will participate will be rabidly anti-Obama. Kind of makes for a nice poll, Newsmax, right? Of course, that *couldn't* be the purpose, now could it?

LAME.

Re:Obama Health Care Ad, WTF??? (1)

otter42 (190544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296378)

Right, Mr. Get-your-government-hands-off-my-medicare moderator, pointing out that there is an amazingly biased and misleading political attack ad on /. is somehow trolling? I'll need that one explained to me. Offtopic, why not, but "troll" makes it look as if you want to disagree, but aren't brave enough to do it with words.

Re:Obama Health Care Ad, WTF??? (0, Troll)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296630)

The mod only suspected you were a troll, but you just proved it.

ESL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30296228)

I'm sure China will have English language papers online for free. There are lots of people that want to push subsidized content. So don't worry you won't have to pay for stuff.

meh, I get my news from the Daily Show... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30296238)

NM

What's the use? (2, Interesting)

Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296246)

Ok, I've been using Google News for as long as I can remember. I can't recall *ever* seeing an ad displayed alongside news results. Now if I do a regular search, *then* I see ads. And when I get to the source article, I see ads there, too. Seems like Google is doing someone a service.

I like Google News because I have found it to be the best resource for comparing news stories. I've even found clear cases of plagiarism and reported them to the original author after doing some tracking.

In some circles it is acknowledged that the newspapers provide a news hole as a service. Some have even said that people who read the newspapers aren't the real consumers of the news since advertisers pay for the news and are therefore the consumers. Nearly the entire printed page (except the front page) is advertising and somewhere in the middle, is the actual news. What newspapers have found is that it's nearly impossible to get a good impression (ads on eyeballs) with a web page. Why? I can adjust the size of the type so that the ads are pushed off to the side. With a sight impairment, this is a requirement.

There may also be an ulterior motive: they don't want us checking facts in articles across news sources. Google makes it easy for me to do that. The hits returned on a news story come from a variety of sources and allow me to compare articles for the perspectives and the facts stated. This allows me to form an opinion on a topic of news from a variety of sources instead of just one. The paywall would help to accomplish the goal of limiting my sources on a story. If I'm paying for one, I won't be paying for another and I won't be comparing sources.

So, unless I'm searching the "web" section of Google, Google isn't going to make any money from ads. This issue is clearly missing from the debate, perhaps intentionally so. Google has been *very* clear about making this distinction and seems to be offering a free service to the news outlets on the web. As some have noted, newspapers are dead, they just don't know it yet. I take a different view. Newspapers are just waking up to being wrapped up by a (web) spider, they just don't know what to do yet.

Any minute now they're going to figure out that their beloved paywall finished the job for the spider.

The only question left in my mind is this: Why aren't they complaining about all the other search sites? Why just Google?

Free advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30296248)

What I don't understand is what prevents the websites themselves from enforcing some limit.

What prevents them from enforcing a limit themselves is because they don't actually want a limit enforced. They want the free advertising Except they don't want it free - they want Google to pay them for it, which would be an interesting advertising model.

Sounds Reasonable to Me (1)

Frightened_Turtle (592418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296304)

...Users who click on more than five articles in a day may be routed to payment or registration pages.

This sounds reasonable to me. A newspaper, magazine or some other media outlet is a business. As a business, they need to make revenue to survive. It costs a lot of money to pay people to go out, collect information and write the news that we are all looking for. News articles don't magically appear out of the ether. It takes someone to write that article and that person has to put food on the table and pay the rent/mortgage.

It doesn't take too much brain power to realize that a publication with a circulation of 50,000 (common for many newspapers) selling periodicals at $1 per copy isn't going to be getting much of its income from subscriptions alone. They get most of their income from advertising. And if you want any businesses to advertise with your publication, you need to show data that proves your publication is read by people who are most likely to buy a given business' product. Think about it: if you created a FPS game with highly detailed and lifelike graphics with a free pr0n option and a totally ripping heavy metal acid rock soundtrack, do you really think you are going to make many sales by placing a $2,000 ad in Grannie's Moral Christian Crocheting Magazine?

So, it makes sense to a media outlet to restrict free access to their articles. They need something in exchange for your having free access. Publishers need demographic data to prove to advertisers that they are reaching a particular target audience. If you want access to a publisher's articles for free, than it makes sense that you have to give them something of value, and that is demographic data. If you really like reading a particular publication, then why not subscribe to it? Contrary to what is implied above, these restrictions do not only apply to Google (or /.) users.

Will it work? It might. I may only read two or three articles from any given news site in a single day, so the five-article restriction won't really affect me. If there is a news site that you really like to follow a lot — say, Slashdot for instance — would you register an account with that site? I think it is very likely you would. If there is a site that you dislike and would never follow, then you will probably not want to register. (You might even delete the record of that site from your browser's history file along with any cookies.)

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