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?