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Google making it easier for publishers to block stories from site

Google and other news aggregators such as The Huffington Post have been called robbers, parasites and worse by some publishers and other critics who say those Web companies are getting a free ride off their content.

Now, under increasing pressure, Google is announcing some concessions that would allow newspaper, magazine and other publishers to block their content from Google's news site. This follows an announcement Tuesday that would limit the number of free clicks users would get to subscription news sites through Google searches.

In a blog post this afternoon, Josh Cohen, senior product business manager for Google News, said the search giant will make it easier for publishers to "de-index" their stories so that they don't get scanned by Google's search crawlers. In effect, it would allow publishers to opt out of Google News. The new practice would also include blocking photos from Google, if wanted.

"Most people put their content on the web because they want it to be found, so very few choose to exclude their material from Google," wrote Cohen, who spoke Tuesday at a workshop by the Federal Trade Commission on the future of newspapers. "But we respect publishers' wishes. If publishers don't want their websites to appear in web search results or in Google News, we want to give them easy ways to remove it."

Google argues that its news aggregation site drives traffic back to the sites of newspapers and other publications. It's an argument also made by Arianna Huffington, who also spoke at the FTC.

The move follows an announcement Tuesday that Google would also restrict the number of free clicks a reader could make to a paid-subscription Web site.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., criticizes the practice of Google allowing free access to its properties such The Wall Street Journal. Tuesday, at the same FTC conference, he compared the practice to theft.

By Cecilia Kang  |  December 2, 2009; 12:55 PM ET
Categories:  Google , Media  
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