Google has made what appears to be a concession to media publishers, allowing them to set a limit on the amount of free newspaper articles users can view via Google.
The move is seen as a bid to quell the fighting words coming from Rupert Murdoch over Google’s indexing of news. The tycoon has complained that search firms “steal” news content by selling classified ads placed next to the search results without compensating media companies.
Under the existing “first-click free” Google service, publishers will be able to restrict users to access only five stories in a 24-hour period, which will protect premium sites’ revenues.
Google says users who click on more than five articles from a publisher in the program will be sent to a “registration page” which will allow publishers to capture potential subscribers.
In a blog post Google senior business product manager Josh Cohen said “previously, each click from a user would be treated as free. Now, we've updated the program so that publishers can limit users to no more five pages per day without registering or subscribing.”
BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones said the amendment was relatively minor but Rupert Murdoch might see it as vindication of his decision to take on Google.