Books and music next to limit ‘free’ on Google

Google’s decision to set a limit on the number of news articles viewers can freely access could see other industries lobbying for a similar deal.
The search giant came under pressure from leading publishing figures, including News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch, to reduce free news content online. Last week, it relented by announcing users could be limited to up to five views of a publisher’s stories per day.

Digital experts say the “long overdue” change in policy could now see other industries looking to strike similar deals with the company.

Matthew Stein from analysts Item says/ “Google has had to take a lot on the chin over the past few weeks from publishers and Mr Murdoch, but by throwing open a deal like this, others are bound to follow suit. The music industry for instance could use it to trail songs and encourage sales, as could book publishers – text can be indexed and content can be limited, provided it has a secure system behind it.”

Last week Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the company was being unfairly made a scapegoat by newspaper executives “looking for someone to blame (for their) dwindling revenue and diminished resources.” He added the search engine is a “great source of promotion”.

Lorenzo Wood, principal at digital agency LBi, says: “It’s all rather odd. Content has to be visible if you want online views, so really the argument is: what makes your content different to justify it being hidden behind a pay-wall after a select number of clicks? Is the traffic you get from Google worth limiting free views? Maybe you just shouldn’t index at all and keep it all premium.”

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