A spokesman for the search giant said: “Google News and web search are a tremendous source of promotion for news organisations, sending them about 100,000 clicks every minute. “Publishers put their content on the web because they want it to be found, so very few choose not to include their material in Google News and web search. But if they tell us not to include it, we don’t.”
Mr Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, told one of his own news channels, Sky News Australia, at the weekend, he is considering removing his newspapers’ content from Google’s search index when his company begins charging for content online. This will be in a bid to encarouge the practice of paying for content online, which has previously been free to consumers.
The Google statement said the procedure to remove any material from its search index required “simple technical standards, used by millions of webmasters and honored by all reputable search engines, to instruct a search engine not to index a web page or even a particular photo on a page”. “If publishers want their content to be removed from Google News specifically all they need to do it tell us,” the statement concluded.
Mr Murdoch, whose newspapers include The Times and The Sun, told Sky News Australia: “I think we will [remove our websites from Google’s search index] but that’s when we start charging.” He added: “The people who simply just pick up everything and run with it – steal our stories, we say they steal our stories – they just take them. That’s Google, that’s Microsoft, that’s Ask.com, a whole lot of people … they shouldn’t have had it free all the time, and I think we’ve been asleep.”
Last week Mr Murdoch warned that his plans to charge for access to content across all of his newspaper sites, by the end of next June, could now be delayed. During a conference call to discuss News Corporation’s first quarter financial results, the media magnate said he couldn’t promise to meet his own deadline – but did say it remained a work in progress and “we are all working very hard” on delivering the pay solution.
There is already a partial paywall in place on one of his newspaper sites, The Wall Street Journal. Web users without a subscription can only access the first paragraph of articles if they arrive via the newspaper’s site. However, if they access an article via a link posted on Google, unsubscribed readers can see the full copy.