Quote of 2005?


I think this a gem.


Seattle PI reports that Francisco Pinto Balsemao, the head of the European Publishers Council, said:



“consumers were drawn online by free content but this needed to change”


Isn’t that just lovely. A great way to wrap up 2005.


You can read the article for yourself, so I won’t bother to repeat it all here (the same article is syndicated here too(!)).


My take on this is the following (usual disclaimers apply):


Google’s response has been the correct response: stuff it. If you don’t want to be syndicated excerpt-style, then we’ll take you off the index. Will the value of the Google News service suffer because of it? Marginally. Will AFP’s articles come up in Google News searches? Nope. Who wins through AFPs actions? Not the consumer. Nor the ‘online publishers’ either – they will lose traffic.


I totally appreciate where Brussels is coming from re: IP protection. I agree that if you want it, you should have it. What neither Brussells nor the AFP have grasped is that syndicated / aggregated / remixed content is not only part of the fabric of the online newsphere today (it is how I found about the story), but that this type of network-based content distribution is set to increase even more so over the next couple of years, especially as RSS hits the mainstream.


I accept there is slippery slope however. Earlier this week, as part of my research for my 2006 Predictions post that I’m updating on an ongoing basis this month, I came across another’s blog post that had copied the entirety of my post’s content, verbatim and without attribution.  That is theft. I was annoyed. I still am. But this type of behaviour is a far cry from what Google News-esque services are doing. It seems Brussells and the AFP are equating wholesale theft with the syndication of excerpts plus attribution and links.


If AFP is not prepared to join by the network’s rules they will be routed around – not in the sense that their IP will be stolen (they can and will protect this), but in the sense that other news sources will suffice and flourish instead (including us bloggers). The syndicated will be syndicated. They’ll be found and therefore read more – at their original source – instead of the absentees. We’ll simply make do without them.


Tom Foremski, seems to disagree:



“News is not consumed through a search box. You cannot search for news because you wouldn’t know what to search for. It’s new. That’s why there are products such as Google News, so you can see what is news.”


Of note: Tom is probably unaware that I found his and the Seattle PI article via Memeorandum. Not through a search box. Although I might have (using one of the pre-defined searches I subscribe to via RSS).


Memeorandum and Google News operate in very similar ways – they provide headlines (arguably an extract in themselves) plus an extract, plus a link to the source. And now I’ve used an extract too and provided a link. Will Tom’s publishers suffer from Memeorandum’s or my actions? What do you think?

Comments (9)

  1. Griffin says:

    So I had a moment of dread when I read that someone screwed you without attribution. I’ve linked to you a few times, probably will with this post in the morning, so for a brief instant I thought, "Jesus, could I have done that? Maybe, if I was drunk. Was I drunk? And then it all went away. I’m not that big of a idiot.

    And I’m with you and Google on this one.

  2. I feel for you on the plagiarism you’ve suffered. It’s always polite to give credit where credit is due, but it highlights a change that is coming.

    Ideas are becoming unpossessable. You can’t hold onto them. Good ideas, like your work, seem to spread with their own momentum. Now that distribution for any thing digital and/or ethereal (like thoughts) has reached essentially zero cost, good things move on their own momentum. Look at recipes. The good ones tend to spread without any real concerted effort by anyone. They just bubble to the top. Where the top, in this case, is the web at large.

    I believe that the market will also eventually shift away from idea ownership which as I discussed above is becoming more and more impossible to a value model. It won’t be a question of who owns or creates a particular idea but rather who’s in a position to build on it. Look at Google Maps for an example. Google came up with a good idea with it’s maps. Now people are making mash ups that build value on top of Google’s idea. It can’t be said that Google owns this idea any more. The “ownership” of the idea in this case is irrelevant. The value that the mash up built on top of the original good idea is where the money is.

    So back to the plagiarism for a minute. I think what will happen is that in the coming remix society such a lack of creativity will be both beneficial to the original producer (you) and harmful to the one doing the plagiarism. Essentially this person has given the idea you created a free mirror. Eventually we’ll reach a point where repetition on the web will be detectable to the masses. If your work gets plagiarized it’ll be appaearant. It will be good for you because it will raise your exposure and bad for the plagiarizer who shows that they have nothing worthwile to share so people leave there and come to you.

    I’m seeing ideas as more of an ecosystem than a static ownership. Look at how the world works. Life gathers to the rich. Rich in food, water and now ideas. If you continue to put out good ideas in this new community people will come to you, just like in nature. If you take ideas without adding your own things to share it’ll be obvious that you’re nothing more than a copy with no other good ideas.

    I guess the coming world may boil down to how well you share rather than what you own. Kind of the “magic penny” effect. The people and companies that will make money and survive will be those who share the best.

  3. Jules Vernon says:

    Google is using the intellectual property of others for their own profit. Nothing wrong with that. ONLY, they should license it, not steal it in the name of progress.

    But they won’t license it until the courts force them, because licensing will hit their bottom line. It’s about money, bubba.

  4. What exactly is Google stealing? If you put something on the net and label it free in your space: ie. news, blogs, ideas, etc. and someone else aggregates it together and thinks of a way to add value to it, how is that stealing?

    I hear a lot of people say Google and other boogymen are stealing from them, but I have to say it’s nothing more than jealously or greed. Obviously someone else created the content, but you built value on it.

    Some quick examples. Travel guides. Each location has its own "content", services, etc. A travel guide aggregates these "content providers" and builds value on top of them which customers glady pay for. Is each destination wronged because the travel guide publisher is making money on thier inferstructure investment? No. They’re usually quite grateful for the exposure that it brings them.

    Custom mix CDs. The non-commercial and fair use kind. Maybe someone likes one or two tracks off a few CDs. Each CD has a certain value to the user. If you make a mix CD of their favorite tracks, that new CD is more valuable than the sum of its parts to the user. All their favorite music in one place.

    There are a lot of pre-web examples of aggregated information and the value built on top of it. The web just allows it to be done on a scale and with a speed that no one has previously imagined.