As complaints mount, Google enables news publishers to limit free content


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Over the last several weeks, Google Inc. has frequently found itself in the crosshairs of news publishers. Most recently, media mogul Rupert Murdoch has been accusing the search company and its competitors of ‘theft’ and ‘misappropriation’ of his company’s news articles. Services like Google News, which has become a major destination for consumers of online news, generally do not pay for the content it features.

That has caused consternation among news publishers like Murdoch, who largely have been unable to wring a profit from their online news operations even as revenues from traditional print newspapers continue their steep decline.


Google is now taking steps to mollify an irate industry by allowing news publishers more control over which content Google’s users can access for free. Yesterday the Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet giant said it would allow news sites to limit the number of free articles that online readers could browse without having registered or subscribed to the site.

When a user registers at a website, it allows the site owners to provide more effective products and advertising.

Any website -- including those run by news organizations -- has the ability to prevent Google from listing it among the search engine’s results -- but Google is now giving news organizations more precise controls over which stories are freely accessible and which require either registration or payment.

Google told news publishers today that they’ll also be given more say over which parts of their content are accessible through Google News, the site that collects headlines and news summaries from more than 25,000 news and blog sources.

News sites will be able to decide which of their articles, photos, and other content will be available on the popular news platform -- and which will not.

-- David Sarno