Google, Associated Press Reach Surprise Online News Deal

Dennis Faas's picture

Google will soon offer content from the Associated Press (AP) on its news site. While the deal makes business sense, it's something of a surprise given that the two companies have publicly disagreed over interpretation of copyright rules.

The full details of the deal, and specifically the financial arrangements and the duration of the license extension included, are being kept under wraps. MarketWatch figures suggest that, given Google's size, the fee is likely worth more than $1 million US dollars per year.

The Associated Press has revealed that the deal will mean closer collaboration rather than a simple payment for content. It means Google will continue to reproduce Associated Press reports in full, in contrast to its normal policy of indexing other news sites for search purposes while only listing the title and a brief "snippet" extract on Google News.

User Data Part of Deal

It's expected Google will provide the AP with details about which of its stories are most popular with readers and whether there is a pattern of change in the type of information that people want over time. For example, when a story first breaks and then in the hours and days that follow.

These details could even cover stories from newspapers, magazines and other news sites featured on Google News rather than just the Associated Press content. That could give the agency better insight into the type of news that is likely to appeal to its clients.

AP writer Michael Liedtke also speculates that Google might provide details about how the Associated Press could tweak and present its content to appear higher up on search engine results. He also points to Google's recently-launched FastFlip display feature as a possible way to promote AP content. (Source:

News Content, Fair Use Debated

The extension comes despite the fact that the Associated Press has criticized Google News for linking to news sites that use Associated Press content without permission. The agency has previously been the subject of blogger discussion about exactly how much of its content online reporters that aren't AP customers can use.

The general feeling is that summarizing the facts the AP reports (plus an acknowledgement of the source) is acceptable, but the real dispute is over quoting directly.

The majority of bloggers believe they should be allowed to post short extracts (plus a link) for the purposes of discussing a story, but the official Associated Press policy is that sites which aren't subscribers to its services should pay a one-off fee starting at $17.50 for up to 50 words. (Source:

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