Google renews licensing deal with AP for news content

The renewal comes after months of negotiations

After months of negotiations, Google has renewed the content licensing deal that allows it to publish full-text news articles from the Associated Press on Google sites such as Google News.

"We look forward to future collaborations, including on ways Google and AP can work together to create a better user experience and new revenue opportunities," wrote Josh Cohen, a Google senior business product manager, in an official blog on Monday.

Cohen's brief statement provides no details about the length of the agreement extension, its dollar value or the stipulations on how and what content can or can't be used by Google.

A Google spokesman declined to comment beyond what's in the statement.

"Under the agreement, AP and Google will also work together in a number of new areas, such as ways to improve discovery and distribution of news," the AP said in its own statement.

In January of this year, with negotiations apparently stalled, Google stopped hosting AP stories on Google News, although the licensing agreement signed in 2006 was still active. Google resumed hosting AP stories in February, The Wall Street Journal reported at the time.The original agreement never lapsed, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The apparently rocky negotiations between Google and AP are emblematic of the tense, love-hate relationship Google has with news organizations.

Publishers are split. Some value the traffic they get from Google News. Others feel that Google profits disproportionately from indexing their news sites' content for free, re-publishing their headlines, thumbnail images and blurbs, and linking back to the sites.

Google has historically claimed that crawling and indexing news websites' content and publishing linked headlines and blurbs is protected by the fair-use principle in U.S. copyright law.

The tension has grown as newspapers and magazines have seen their ad revenue drop significantly in recent years, while Google's revenue and profits have risen. Google makes most of its revenue from online advertising it matches to content on its search and content sites, and on those of its ad network partners. The publishing industry has been generally slow in transitioning its ad business model from the print medium to the Internet.

In 2005, wire service Agence France Presse sued Google, alleging that by linking to AFP articles from Google News, Google was guilty of copyright infringement. That lawsuit was settled in 2007 when Google and AFP signed a content licensing agreement, similar in nature to the one between Google and the AP.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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