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Google pockets half of 'unlicensed' news dollars, says study

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Google pockets more than half of the online revenues generated from "unlicensed" newspaper content, according to a new study.

With a report (PDF) released today, the Fair Syndication Consortium says that over a 30-day period in October and November, more than 75,000 websites "reused" at least one newspaper article without sharing revenue with the newspaper. And Google, the study says, accounted for 53 per cent of the ad dollars pulled in by such unlicensed content.

Yahoo!, the second place finisher, accounted for but 19 per cent. The study also fingers Microsoft, AOL, and ad targeting platform Audience Science.

On the 75,195 sites fingered, the Consortium found 112,000 "near-exact copies" of unlicensed articles (meaning reproductions that lifted more than 80 percent of the original article and more than 125 words) and 163,173 "excerpts" (less than 80 per cent of original article and more than 125 words). But in most cases, sites are merely reusing the headline (125 words or less).

Google, of course, would argue that using small portions of an article is fair use. But this doesn't really wash with the likes of Rupert Murdoch.

Blogs, the study says, are a relatively small part of the unlicensed problem. Among the top 1,000 sites reproducing unlicensed content, less than 10 per cent were bloggy things.

Run by Arributor, an anti-online-piracy outfit, the Fair Syndication Consortium is a group of publishers seeking a new means of web syndication that will provide them with a cut of the revenue when articles are shared. Its study tracked the reuse of articles from 157 US newspapers between October 15 and November 15, estimating revenues via ad detection technology. ®

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