Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Genuises at Agence France Presse

Click here for AmazonThe geniuses over at Agence France Presse -- or as I like to call them, the Paris bureau of Al Jazeera -- have decided to sue Google News for a minimum of $17 million. Their claim? That Google's news aggregation service reproduced snippets of AFP's copyrighted photos, headlines and stories without permission.

Attention, AFP management: this lawsuit is almost as sensible as giving your 16-year-old daughter permission to date Mike Tyson.

In fact, if these PHB's had the common sense that God gave a sea otter, they would have dealt with this "problem" (and they must think having traffic directed to their site, free of charge, is a problem) in one of the following ways:

  • Used a robots.txt file to tell the Google search bot ("GoogleBot") the areas of the site not to spider

  • Used a simple web server configuration option to deny access to the GoogleBot

  • Used another simple web server configuration option to deny access to the GoogleBot's IP addresses

  • Or simply have asked Google not to spider their site

  • Any one of these options would have prevented Google News from "stealing" AFP's precious one-sentence story summaries and thumbnail copies of images. But apparently, AFP has decided to invest in their legal department, not niceties such as IT or sensible senior management.

    It reminds me of case, a while back, in which the geniuses at TicketMaster that sued various parties over "deep-linking" -- the practice of linking to content within a site as opposed to the site's main page.

    News flash: don't want someone to deep-link to your site? Hire someone technically savvy enough to configure your web-site to deny deep-linking. Hint: there are these mysterious things called "cookies", or "referer headers", or other tools that can help implement a 'no deep linking' policy.

    Although someone would have to explain to me why you wouldn't want more exposure for your content, more folks linking to it, and therefore more visitors and marketing exposure. Maybe we can ask the rocket scientists at AFP about that sometime.

    PhysOrg: AFP sues Google for news aggregation

    No comments: