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If you have been following tech news lately, you may have seen that Google has been under attack by a number of newspapers because of its Google News news aggregator.

From what I can gather from various sources these newspapers believe that Google is effectively "stealing their content" by aggregating it.

Looking at this, one should first consider that Google makes no money off of the service. It is just like many other Google services that Google provides with no other benefit to themselves but marketshare. Of course, they do make money when you go to parts of their site that contain advertising, but that's irrelevant.

Second, we should look at the fact that Google only reprints part of an article along with the headline from sources, and displays other headlines from other sources on the same topic right below. This means that Google is not showing an entire article on their site, but instead just a tiny snippet (which is not even a summary). This means that a person can read the snippet of material, and if it interests them, click on the link. This ultimately results in the reader ending up at a newspaper's website.

Newspapers may think that people are turning to Google News instead of their newspapers. The problem is that these days people are looking more and more for news from varied sources on topics that interest them, and not just the topics that one newspaper discusses in their papers and on their websites. It is my belief that, if it weren't for Google, almost none of the people that currently come through Google would view articles from these newspapers.

I can completely understand why the newspapers are doing this. Times are tough, and the newspapers need readers. But if the newspapers aren't willing to have their content aggregated, the fact is that many people may turn to alternative sources of media, such as blogs and independent news-sites. It's not as if this hasn't already started happening, at any rate.

I believe that newspapers can stay relevant. They simply need to encourage their readers to participate more, and provide new avenues to allow their readers to do this. Television news stations have already been taking advantage of this by allowing viewers to send in news stories and pictures they have taken related to news stories and the weather.

It's difficult to tell what will happen in this scenario. Google needs the news sources for its aggregator. On the other hand, the newspapers would be shooting themselves in their feet if they pursued this and Google chose not to pay up royalties to them for linking to their content but instead simply removed them from the site. At any rate, it seems that the current setup is extremely fair, and both Google and the newspapers benefit immensely. I would hate to see this relationship become unstable; I would venture to guess that the newspapers really have more to loose on their end.

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