Google has politely turned down a cordial invitation to support technology that would control how the search engine lists articles and photos. The technology is called ACAP, which stands for “automated content access protocol,” and has been developed by a consortium of media trade organizations, including the European Publishers Council, the International Publishers Association and the World Association of Newspapers.
Google’s European partnership, lead Rob Jonas, reminded attendees at the MediaGuardian.co.uk Changing Media Summit that there already is technology in place for publishers to opt out of Google should they not be pleased with the search company’s indexing methods.
Placing a robots.txt file onto sites prevents Google’s spiders from indexing them and displaying sites in search results.
But publishers often find themselves in a Catch-22 situation when it comes to being indexed by Google. They want to be found by the millions of Google searchers, but they want Google to pay for indexing – and caching – copyrighted content. A Belgian court sided with publishers last year when it ruled in favor of a lawsuit brought by Copiepresse.
Google, of course, does not want to pay for content, as it would dip into their profitable strategy of monetizing search results with AdWords. Google’s stance is that they are simply connecting to user’s sites and therefore not violating copyright laws. Cached pages remain in a grey and murky area of the law, particularly in Europe.