Brazil’s ANJ boycotts Google News, wants compensation for headlines and lede paragraphs

The Association of Newspapers in Brazil is not happy with Google News, as it recently opted out of the free news aggregator, over complaints that Google crops news headlines and lede paragraphs for the decade-old service without permission nor monetary reimbursement.

The 154-member ANJ roughly equals 90 percent of Brazil’s newspaper circulation. The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas reported on a dispute that occurred earlier this week between an ANJ member’s lawyer and a Google executive at the American Press Association General Assembly in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The contention apparently “fueled one of the most intense debates during the Inter American Press Association’s 68th General Assembly.”

According to the Knight Center:

On one side of the debate were defenders of news companies’ authoring rights like German attorney Felix Stang, who said, “platforms like Google’s compete directly with newspapers and magazines because they work like home pages and use content from them.”

On the other, Google representatives said their platform provides a way to make journalistic content available to more people. According to Marcel Leonardi, the company’s public policies director, Google News channels a billion clicks to news sites around the world.

ANJ president Carlos Fernando Lindenberg Neto specifically told the Knight Center that providing the “first few lines of our stories to internet users, (Google) reduces the chances that they will look at the entire story in our websites.”

Google Public Policy Director Marcel Leonardi refuted Neto’s comment during the IAPA debate, claiming if the reader is “satisfied with the small blurb (we offer), that means the story did not call his attention that much.”

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A similar situation to Brazil’s occurred in 2007 when a Belgian court ruled that Google News did not have the right to display the lede paragraph from French-language Belgian newspapers, and the early decision subsequently required Google to stop aggregating excerpts from Belgian newspapers.

It seems Google has a habit of cropping excerpts from sources other newspapers, as well. The search giant started to scan and digitize snippets of library books in 2002 for its Book Search service founded in 2004. The Association of American Publishers promptly filed a lawsuit against Google in 2005 for copyright infringement over the unauthorized use of its content.

With that said, Google and the Association of American Publishers recently announced a settlement agreement for the 7-year-old litigation that would further provide access to copyrighted content digitized by Google for its Library Project.

Based on the heated talks at the General Assembly in Brazil, however, it looks like Google and the ANJ are still quite far from finding any middle ground.

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