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Euro-publisher chief slates 'parasitic' search firms

Can't find common ground with Google

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The head of the European Publishers Council gave Google and other search vendors a savaging this week, warning they could not expect to “help themselves” to producers’ content for free and forever.

The Associated Press reports that Francisco Pinto Balsemao told a conference in Brussels that Google and others were attempting to reverse the traditional “permission-based” copyright model.

Warming to his theme, he said it was “fascinating to see how these companies ‘help themselves’ to copyright-protected material, build up their own business models around what they have collected, and parasitically, earn advertising revenues off the back of other people’s content.”

While Balsemao slated Google and the like, he accepted that consumers too had to be weaned off free content, so that the publishing industry could “legal certainty and the confidence that their intellectual property will be protected.”

The EPC’s membership is a who’s who of Europe’s traditional media, with the heads of the Financial Times Group, Reuters, Trinity Mirror, Telegraph Group, Daily Mail and General Trust, News International UK and Reed Business Information amongst its UK membership.

Google will, on request, remove a news source from its index. Getting it to be more accommodating to the publishing industry’s needs might need more concerted action from publishers.

And therein lies the problem. Before they could settle this new feud with Google, the publishers would have to settle a range of far more ancient feuds amongst themselves first.®

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