Author's Opinion

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Tuesday, 30 October 2012 10:01

President wants to cut French newspapers from Google's search results


That's not what President Hollande says he wants to achieve, but it will be the outcome.

One of the problems will being elected on a platform of varied promises is that one has no idea which of those promises actually mattered to the voters; one is forced to implement all of them and hope the screaming doesn't get too loud when the wrong choices are made.

So it is with newly elected French President Francois Hollande

Not quite realising the relative strengths of the two groups (France and Google), Hollande has chosen to provoke the gorilla by suggesting that they should pay to index articles sourced from French news outlets.

The problem of course is that aside from regular readers / subscribers, French newspaper web sites (and in fact ALL news websites - iTWire included) rely on Google and other search engines to deliver readers to their advertisers. Well, there is actually a step between the reader and the advertiser -the actual news article - but thus is merely the bait, as it were.

Which brings us to M. Hollande.

Quite clearly, someone has convinced the President that Google is the enemy (we assume the 'someone' is a publisher of some sort) and that Google is gaining revenue from other people's effort.

That's probably true, to a limited degree.

The problem arises when we negate everything; in that situation, what might the world look like?

OK, let's negate Google.

OK, no Google (in fact, let's drop the entire Search Engine industry going all the way back to AltaVista, DogPile and all the others). We should ask the newspaper sites how they feel about being forced to advertise their websites only via traditional media (radio, TV, billboards etc.) and word-of-mouth.

Let's take another analogy. Google is like a taxi - one with advertising on the outside of the car. The role of the Google taxi is to deliver people where they want to go; and how they know where they want to go (perhaps a night club) by asking the driver what he recommends. Is President Hollande seriously suggesting that the Google taxi driver should pay the night club for the (perhaps dubious) honour of delivering the passenger?  Surely deliverance from the average taxi conversation isn't that important!

I would be quite shocked if Google agreed to pay, instead, I'm quite sure that they will calmly tell the French authorities, "Thanks, but no thanks. By the way, if your country's websites complain about sinking patronage, puff out your chest and be sure to tell them how you assisted in that small matter."


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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.



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