Google-AP: Getting It Straight; Deal Does Not Answer Google News Question

A favorite option for scalped tickets works like this: buy a pencil or program for $600, get two World Series tickets for free. It’s not completely analogous to what we’re hearing from Google and the Associated Press but it sounds pretty darn close. Google and AP each have reasons for wanting the relatively broad licensing agreement they signed earlier this year to sound a certain way. Google’s responses are framed to emphasize the search company’s mantra of “fair use” when it comes aggregating content at Google News. AP has its own mantra centered on being paid for use of intellectual property. The result: AP gets paid, Google pays and the status of Google News is left hanging. Google says the deal covers new products and features; AP doesn’t confirm or deny that Google News is included.
Jane Seagrave, AP’s VP-new media markets, wouldn’t speak to that issue during a phone interview, sticking within the parameters of what AP thinks can be discussed. Google will produce a new feature or service using AP content but what form that will take is vague; I’m not sure anyone outside of Google knows although one would think AP execs will see it before launch. When I asked Google about that, it was among several questions left unanswered. (More on Google’s response below.) Seagrave also wouldn’t say if it’s a combination license and rev share arrangement. Google won’t say whether it’s a direct license payment.
Seagrave talked a little about deals, in general. “We’re continually looking for ways to protect our members interest as well as protecting our own intellectual property. We’re doing more and increasingly complex deals that are trying to align aggregators and search engines interests with those of content providers, especially our members.” AP is in discussions “with a lot of people” about social bookmarking.
AP’s lack of an online portal makes for different dynamics; AP stories appear on member sites or license sites. It means that driving traffic — a major component of many online content deals — to AP itself is out of the equation. Given the relationship with Google, I asked Seagrave about the way Google AdSense switches ads to PSAs or an alternative ad server when keywords suggest a story might upset readers — an issue raised this week in the East Bay Express. Her response was quick: “The AP is not counting clicks or determining its story agenda on the basis of how monetizable the keywords are and we never will.”
One interesting aspect: despite Google’s interest in video, the deal applies only to photo and text.
When I contacted Google, the first response from spokeswoman Sonya Boralv was much the same as the one reported earlier this week. She added,”The license in this agreement provides for *new* uses of original AP content for features and products we will introduce in the future. We are very excited about the innovative new products we will build with full access to this content.” She added, “Google News is fully consistent with fair use and always has been.” Out of five follow-up questions about various aspects, Boralv responded to only one: “Does Google believe fair use applies to using Google News or elements of GN on ad-supported pages outside of news.google.com?” Boralv: “We believe Google News is fully consistent with fair use.”
Related: Parsing & Breaking Down The AP-Google Agreement