Industry Developments in January 2010

by Ruud Hein February 2nd, 2010 


Our world-wide web is one made up of links; without them, no web. Plain and simple. It's thus that any threat to linking  affects us all.

baidu (Custom)In China the dominant search engine Baidu was acquitted for linking to illegal music downloads.

The reason, Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court said, is that Baidu doesn't pirate those tracks themselves and therefore have no responsibility in paying any damages.

That reasoning is close to the one followed in the USA where the 2000 Judge Kaplan decision barred sites from linking to (illegal) content if 3 conditions were met: 1. you had to know, when linking, that the illegal stuff was there, 2. know that the illegal content is illegal to offer, 3. make or keep the link in order to spread the illegal content.

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british newspapers Closer to home (the invidual site vs. the rest of the world), in the UK a consortium of online newspapers is officially fed up with aggregators stealing or "stealing" their content.

Online news aggregator NewsNow's bot has been blocked in robots.txt.

The underlying problem is the Newspaper Licensing Agency agreement which basically states that if you make its members' content available, you have to pay license fees. The problem being that "content" would also refer to circulating links.

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enforcer (Custom)Google made industry observers laugh when Eric Schmidt said that Google is no country; they don't even have their own police, prosecutors, or jails.

Which would make the "if you don't do this, we''ll do that" simple, menacing threats.

Google does have its own enforcers and while it has no jail its cement ballast dragging a site down to "950, choking the life out of a business is probably just as effective " if not more.

Or, as Steve Jobs put it, "Dont be evil' is a load of crap"source

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copyrightOn that "Don't Be Evil" note: Google's 2008 "settlement" to scan and republish copyrighted book material continues to encounter the stiff opposition it deserves.

Bird's eye overview: Google said it was going to scan any book it could get. Not for private use (permitted under fair use) but to republish huge chunks of them.

To try to stay out of trouble they said "OK, we're going to scan books that are out of print". Here's the catch though: several of those out of print books are still under full copyright protection.

Google will display substantial parts of these books " and if you want to read the whole thing you can buy the book from Google. 63% will go to the original publisher, the rest to, you guessed it, Google.

That's so far beyond what copyright laws allow, it's what we commonly refer to as pure plain and simple theft.

Google was taken to court and 1 out of 4 US American writer associations made a settlement with Google, in effect signing over the digital rights to certain titles to Google.

Another crazy aspect of the settlement is that unless you opted out, you're automatically opted in.

European countries have already protested and books from France and Germany, among other countries, are already excluded.

Now one of the other writer's guild is opposing Google's book scam scan plans as are Amazon and a group of academic writers.

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oops A Chinese association representing 8,000 Chinese writers was pretty upset Google already had gone ahead scanning books that aren't theirs.

The scanning has been done in recent years.

Google has now apologized and has handed over a list of books it has pirated scanned and has said it will forge an agreement to scan these books.

Why Google has gone ahead digitizing  these titles without such an agreement in place is unclear.

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Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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2 Responses to “Industry Developments in January 2010”

  1. Spider J says:


    I would like to put my understanding across of what the NLA are doing with respect to "linking". Firstly, to make it clear I support their activity in principle. I don't agree that they are licensing link per say (this message has been garbled by detractors, and perhaps by ingenuous marketing manager at the NLA), they are instead licensing the content and it's use by commercial aggregators. That use of content does not only refer to the presentation of the content (as in re-publishing) but about how it is collected (indexed), stored and retrieved). As a professional who knows the heuristics of running web environment, I expect you would agree that the commercial aggregators aren't providing any real-benefit to publishers and their traffic is not worth the the electricity used for the cpu cycles caused by their scraping activity. The intention of most U.K publishers is not to block you or I in our individual capacities, or even google, bing, yahoo et al who provide valuable services to us but instead to ensure a fair and equitable relationship is achieved with commercial aggregators or those "search engines" which use other people's content to drive their services and in turn charge their end-users for that service. I would argue with some conviction that the large scale aggregators have a fair argument that their tipping-point traffic generation is indeed worth the cpu-cycles and to me that seem to be a reciprocal arrangement that most publishers are happy with. The NLA have gone further, and with investment from the publishers they launching a platform (eClips Web) which hooks directly to the newspaper's CMS's, aggregates and outputs a high-quality strutured feed and a permalink facility (with many other features) which promises to improve these mid-level aggregators services and offers them an opportunity to reduce overall running costs. If eClips Web manages to do what it says on the tin then indeed the offering will trump any scraper in terms of quality, timeliness, consistency, coverage and reliability.

    I think this is really a case of "biting the hand that feeds" and it would be in both the aggregators interests and the publishers interests to communicate more effectively and work with each to find a win-win solution.