Ever thought Google News, with its endless stream of no-cost
content, was too good to be true? Well, so did Rupert Murdoch, who has
repeatedly threatened to pull News Corp.’s Web sites–most notably, The Wall Street Journal and the Times of London–from the search titan. (Gawker imagined that scenario on Nov. 24.) And
now, Google is updating its options to help Murdoch and other
publishers limit free access to articles.
Here’s how it used to work: Publishers allowed Google’s crawler to index
their subscription content, then allowed users who found one of those
articles through Google News or Google Search to see full stories
without registering or subscribing. Google called this the “First Click Free” program, but really, all clicks–on Google News, at least–were free. (Google terms this
“abusing the spirit” of First Click Free.) The revamped options let
publishers limit users to no more than five no-cost page views per day.
“If you’re a Google user, this means that you may start to see a
registration page after you’ve clicked through to more than five
articles on the Web site,” wrote Josh Cohen, senior business product
manager, on the Google News Blog.
yet? Well, you shouldn’t be. If you’re one of the so-called “abusers,”
all this means is that you’ll have to pay a minimal fee–e.g.,
$1.99/week for WSJ.com–for quality content that you already know and
love. (Which, come on, you should have been doing anyway. The media is
dying, remember?) And if you’re like the rest of us, who just use
Google’s service to bone up on breaking news, the chances of clicking
five articles from the same publisher are slim to none. Case in point: