Google bows to Murdoch?

Google has introduced a new program that will allow publishers to better protect their paid Web content from Google News lurkers.

Google has introduced a new program that will allow publishers to better protect their paid Web content from Google News lurkers.

Typically, online readers can access any news story via a general Google or Google News search even if a publication like say The Wall Street Journal requires a paid subscription. This policy has caused much hand-wringing in media company board rooms where publishers fret giving away paid content vs. losing the cachet, awareness, and link love that comes from Google search. News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch recently appeared ready to make the daring leap to de-index his sites from the clutches of Google. Could that be what pushed Google to finally cave in just a smidge on the freebies?

The adjustment is being made to Google's First Click Free program that allows online users to access the first page (and sometimes more) of an article even if it's subscriber-protected. Publishers have always had the right to opt-out of it, but that's considered a bit risky for your coveted page views. Now, Google will allow publishers to limit users to seeing only five pages per day. From the Google blog:

Now, we've updated the program so that publishers can limit users to no more than five pages per day without registering or subscribing. If you're a Google user, this means that you may start to see a registration page after you've clicked through to more than five articles on the website of a publisher using First Click Free in a day...

In addition to First Click Free, we offer another solution: We will crawl, index and treat as "free" any preview pages - generally the headline and first few paragraphs of a story - that they make available to us... We will then label such stories as "subscription" in Google News. The ranking of these articles will be subject to the same criteria as all sites in Google, whether paid or free. Paid content may not do as well as free options, but that is not a decision we make based on whether or not it's free. It's simply based on the popularity of the content with users and other sites that link to it.

You're up Murdoch.

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