LJNDawson.com, Consulting to the Book Publishing Industry
Book Publishing Industry Consultant

Information Wants to Be Paid for By Advertising

Silicon.com reports today that the World Association of Newspapers is going to "challenge the exploitation of content" by search engines by...well, they haven't decided what they're going to do yet. They're French.

But their argument is similar to what a lot of publishers and authors are arguing regarding
Google Print - that even the metadata required for listing a product (whether it's a book, a news story, or any other piece of intellectual property) is worth something. A headline (or book title), a photo (or a picture of the book jacket), a little blurb on what the thing is about - that's enough to get an advertiser interested. Will publishers and authors see any revenue from ads on Google? Will newspapers likewise see any revenue from ads on search engines?

The search engine's argument is that it provides "exposure" for products like books and music and news stories, and it's up to the publisher to actually SELL the stuff and make THEIR share of the money. The cost of listing is paid for by ads. In other words, what Google does with your metadata is their business.

This comes up at meetings with publishers periodically - can anyone claim ownership of metadata, or is it in the public domain? The fact that a news story is about orange groves - can someone make that determination and say, "I own the relationship of this news story to that subject of orange groves"?

Or is making that relationship considered creative and copyrightable work? Someone else could read the story and say, "That story's about the effects of hurricanes on local economies."

The more search engines are capable of doing, the more interesting copyright law is going to get.
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