If I were Google and the World Association of Newspaper came to me claiming I was violating their copyright with Google News, I’d say: “Yes sir, you are right. As long as you maintain your copyright stance against all players and are prepared to follow through with legal action then I’m prepared to pay you this wad of cash to license your content”.
Google News isn’t in a battle with the newspapers. As much as they can fight it, there role as gatekeeper to content will be slowly eroded. But it does compete with far more intelligent, sophisticated aggregation engines like memeorandum, tailrank, digg, etc that I’m tipping will dominate this space in coming years.
Therefore it wouldn’t be a bad thing for Google News if the barrier to entry in this market suddenly rose. If you suddenly need to pay a million bucks in license fees to play in the game, how are all your little startups going to compete.
It’s a very similiar situation to the two-tier Internet. The big players could easily afford to pay the telcos and gain an advantage over start-ups. Both these issues are perhaps the best litmus test of the Do No Evil position at Google. It really would make commercial sense for Google to bend on both of these issues, as neither would even dent its earnings, while dramatically easing the competitive environment. On the Google News issue, it has even greater incentive to concede because it would then be free to start monetising the service without legal concern.
To its credit, Google has so far fought the good fight, which surely it is doing more on behalf of the wider internet community than for its own interests. And for that Google, we salute you. Big Media would love nothing more than to cripple the amazing benefits of emerging media models. We need someone big enough to stand up to them.