02 December 2009

Has Google caved to pressure from Murdoch?

Google have announced that newspaper publishers will now be able to set a limit on the number of free news articles people can read through their site, reports the BBC.

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

Under the First Click Free programme, publishers can now prevent unrestricted access to subscription websites.

Users would now start to see a registration page if they click on more than five articles in a day.

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

"Now, we've updated the programme so that publishers can limit users to no more than five pages per day without registering or subscribing."

The BBC describes how Rupert Murdoch had earlier accused firms such as Google of profiting from journalism by generating advertising revenue by linking readers to newspaper articles.

BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones told the website that the concession was relatively minor but Mr Murdoch might see it as vindication of his decision to take on Google.

Cohen also stated in his blog post how, besides First Click Free, Google would also offer publishers the option where they would index and treat as “free” any preview pages that were made available to them – generally the headline and first few paragraphs.

He said that because the content would be identical to what a normal user would see, this would not breach Google’s strict “no cloaking” policy – where the page that a web crawler sees and indexes is different to the one seen by the end user.

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