Google News licenses wire news agencies

Google Inc is playing host to news stories from four news agencies including the Associated Press, the company said on Friday, setting the stage for it to generate advertising revenue from Google News.

The partners — Britain’s Press Association, Canadian Press, Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press of the United States — now have their stories featured with the organizations’ own brands on Google News-hosted landing pages. The companies have agreed to license news feeds to Google.

Previously, the five-year-old Google News service has crawled the Web to uncover links to news stories from thousands of stories and clustered links on similar subjects together, without hosting the stories themselves.

Josh Cohen, business product manager of Google News, said his company would consider eventually running advertising alongside the stories it is licensing from news agencies.

“I think it is fair to say we are always looking at ways to help publishers distribute, promote and monetize their content,” Cohen said. “There is no doubt that this deal gives us more flexibility for the product in a number of ways.”

The changes won’t affect the ranking of what stories turn up in the search results of Google News, Cohen said. If an AP story ranked eighth among different versions of a story previously, it would still rank eighth under the new service.

“Nothing happens algorithmically to these partners that doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Cohen said, referring to the computer-driven formulas that link a user’s search for news to relevant articles and then clusters them into topical groups.

Google does not now run ads next to automatically generated links to avert legal challenges. Agence France-Presse (AFP) recently dropped a suit against Google for using its text and photos on Google News without AFP’s permission.

Because the four news agencies act as wholesalers supplying news to other news organizations and do not attempt to attract customers to destination sites of their own, Google News has inevitably linked to the customers of the agencies instead.

For example, a story on Google News credited to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer could in fact have been originally from the Associated Press.

The move to reduce redundant news does not stop users from expanding a search to see multiple versions of the same story by clicking on a link that appears on each search results page for “Sort by date with duplicates included.”

The changes will have little impact on news organizations that receive traffic directly from Google News, Cohen said.

News organizations like New York Times Co, Dow Jones & Co’s Wall Street Journal or Reuters Group Plc seek to drive readers to their own sites, where the organizations run ads or sell subscription services themselves, instead of relying on Google.

Google’s licensing of articles from news organization partners is similar to how rival news sites such as Yahoo Inc’s Yahoo News or Microsoft Corp’s MSNBC have licensed news from news organizations for more than a decade.

“We are licensing our content to Google,” said Jane Seagrave, vice president of new media markets at the Associated Press, which is based in New York. “It’s exactly the same content that we license to 300 to 400 Web sites,” she said.

She declined to comment on the terms of the deal, and whether Google would run ads alongside AP stories. Because of Google’s campaign to simultaneously reduce duplicate stories, the original wire service story is likely to be featured in Google News instead of versions of the same story from newspaper customers, sapping ad revenue to those newspapers.

AP has licensed access to its national and international wires but not its state and local wires, which are reserved for use by the news consortium’s member newspapers, Seagrave said.

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