By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 3: Top print media executives and news publishers on Thursday made an impassioned defence of copyright to Google's chief legal counsel David Drummond, calling for "a more rigorous and unambiguous acceptance" of publishers' rights to decide how their content is used on the Internet.
"Being able to make a commercial return is essential to justify investment in content - whether we are talking news or education or entertainment - and that depends on having the mechanism to choose how that content is distributed, used and paid for," said Gavin O'Reilly, president of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.
"What to do with the Google?" was the hot topic of debate on the concluding day of the three-day world press summit here. "That is why copyright was invented 300 years ago - and when you consider the breadth, depth, richness and diversity of 21st century media, it has been a stunning success - and that is why copyright remains as relevant today."
But Mr O'Reilly added: "what is clear is that, collectively, we haven't made copyright work properly on the web, and that is down to we content creators who have, perhaps foolishly, failed to enforce our copyright."
Mr Drummond, who is also the vice-president of Google, denied that his organisation had violated copyright. "This is not a question of Google not respecting copyright. This is a fundamental disagreement when you're
applying copyright rules on the web," he said, adding that the idea that indexing sites was a violation "flies in the face of how the web has been built and how it operates."
But he said Google was interested in working with the newspaper industry, and announced that Google was launching a separate crawler for Google News, so that publishers can give one set of instructions on how their content should be treated in Google News, and a different set of instructions for Google Search.
He pointed out that Google News offers publishers a billion clicks a month and massive traffic, which he called "a source of promotion undreamed of just a few years ago."
Mr O'Reilly said: "Unfortunately, the pat answer always seems to be, 'don't complain - aren't I giving you traffic?' As if I could take traffic to my bank manager. But shouldn't I have the right to determine - as a fair trade for my own content - whether I want traffic or something else? Leaving aside the thorny issue of dominant market position that Google enjoys, why should I just be forced to accept Google's business model of site referral as the only online model?"
"I want to say that I am not advocating charity here. We publishers don't need hand outs or crumbs from Google's table. What we want is a more rigorous and unambiguous acceptance on copyright, an acknowledgement of our right to choose our own business model, a more transparent technical mechanic,
and perhaps, less of the rather tired, 'fair use' rhetoric."
He called for adoption of the Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP), a new protocol back by WAN-IFRA and others in the industry that allows publishers to describe how their online content can be used in a way that the news aggregators' automated indexing crawlers can read.
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