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Newspapers Fight Back Against Search Engines

A task force of global and European publishers has agreed to examine ways to receive payment from Internet search engines and news aggregators that the group claims are making money by taking someone else's content for free.

Led by the Paris-based World Association of Newspapers, the group of newspaper, magazine and book publishers are hoping to write standards and policies that define the commercial relationship between publishers and search engines, such as Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc., and content aggregators.

The task force also is exploring options, including collective action at either a national or international level, for enforcing copyright and preventing brand infringement, the group said. Among its first steps would be to meet with Charlie McCreevy, European Union commissioner for the internal market and services; and Viviane Reding, the commissioner for information society and media.

"The search engines are increasingly aiming their strategic efforts at traditional content originators and aggregators like newspaper publishers," Gavin O'Reilly, WAN president and chairman of the task force, said in a statement released Tuesday. "The irony is that these search engines exist, largely, because of the traditional news and content aggregators and profit at their expense."

O'Reilly compared search engines to Napster, a file-sharing service provider that was forced to change its business operation several years ago by a music industry lawsuit that objected to Napster allowing users to share songs for free.

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