Compensating Content Creators: What’s Fair?

Picture 2A new Columbia Journalism Review opinion piece argues persuasively (in my view) that Google “owes” something to traditional journalism and news organizations. Google, typically, is a stand-in for “the internet” in these discussions. However the notion of “responsibility” to publishers is unpopular among bloggers and Internet denizens more generally.

I tend to fault news organizations for not being faster, smarter and more creative in their online efforts. It’s also the case that the Internet as a publishing and distribution platform has disrupted traditional media models across the board. And pointing the finger at others, such as Google, tends to obscure the fault or responsibility that publishers should accept for their own missteps, failures and omissions.

Having said all that, I found this discussion in the article pretty compelling:

On Saturday afternoon, February 7, 2009,, the Web site of Sports Illustrated, broke a huge story: Alex Rodriguez, the mega-rich Yankees star, had taken performance-enhancing drugs while playing for the Texas Rangers. Sports Illustrated released the story on its Web site rather than in the magazine, according to the editors involved, in an effort to enhance’s standing as a destination for fans increasingly conditioned to getting sports news online. Within hours the story was everywhere, but if you went through Google to find it, what you likely got instead were the pickups that appeared elsewhere, summaries or even rewrites, with attribution. Most galling was that The Huffington Post’s use of an Associated Press version of SI’s report was initially tops on Google, which meant that it, and not, tended to be the place readers clicking through to get the gist of the breaking scandal would land.

The rest of this post is at SEL.


10 Responses to “Compensating Content Creators: What’s Fair?”

  1. Tim Cohn Says:

    Did they mean “without attribution” instead?

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Not clear on the question Tim

  3. Tim Cohn Says:

    It seems those who practice wholesale theft and re-purposing of content would be less likely to provide attribution of their sources as opposed to saying btw – “we stole this story from and made it our own.”

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    Some do steal it all and then cite the source, thinking this insulates them. Others don’t.

  5. Terry Howard Says:

    Hello, robots.txt much? Maybe even a noindex META tag, or how about you block bots by IP? If you don’t know how to close your door, don’t bitch when the bugs fly in.

  6. Tim Cohn Says:

    @Terry – your simple point always seems to be omitted from the media’s “argument”.

    Reminds me of the Perfect 10 lawsuit where he claimed all of his images were being stolen.

    I guess a robots.txt story would have meant – no news.

  7. Tim Cohn Says:

    Via Google’s European Public Policy blog:

    “…more than 25,000 news organizations across the globe make their content available in Google News and other web search engines. They do so because they want their work to be found and read — Google delivers more than a billion consumer visits to newspaper web sites each month.”

  8. Greg Sterling Says:

    Right — it’s a bit of a catch 22 for the news organizations because Google is so central to the Internet experience for most people.

  9. Terry Howard Says:

    Well, and let’s not forget that their reporters are extensively using Google to research as well. Between that free resource and the oodles of eyeballs they can drive to their sites, they really are their best friends. It’s a shame that their monetary woes on the print side and their inability to get a handle on online content delivery and the monetization of that content is causing them to lash out at the hand that feeds them.

  10. Tim Cohn Says:

    An aside – Steve Brill’s answer to Content Monetization:

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