Google Flinches First, Modifies "First Click Free" Service to Appease News Publishers

Paul Lilly

The standoff betweent News Corporation's Rupert Murdoch and Google may have just come to an end. Murdoch, who in a recent interview said he was considering making his sites invisible to search to prevent aggregrators like Google from profiting from the works of others, is likely to back down now that Google has tweaked its "First Click Free" policy, which previously allowed users unfettered access to subscription-based content.

"Previously, each click from a user would be treated as free," Josh Cohen, Google Senior Business Product Manager, said in a statement. "Now, we've updated the program so that publishers can limit users to no more than five pages per day without registering or subscribing. 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 website of a publisher using First Click Free in a day."

Google hopes the announcement will put to rest concerns in the newspaper industry that the search giant is using newspaper content unfairly and profiting from that use. Under the revised First Click Free policy, users will no longer be able to avoid paying subscription fees by looking up pages through Google. The reason this was possible before is because Google searches often link directly to newspaper articles, bypassing subscription systems.

Is Google's latest move a fair trade off? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

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