Search engine giants Google shall be helping newspaper publishers limit the amount of free news access readers can have, they announced yesterday.
From today, content providers can sign up to a ‘First Click Free’ policy, which will only allow readers to look at five articles free of charge on their site. After this, the reader will have to pay to read content or subscribe. The announced the policy changes on Google’s official Webmaster Central Blog, adding that Google have always supported publishers trying to push their articles out online, so felt it would be best to limit the free access to news online readers currently enjoy.
“As most users are generally happy to be able to access just a few pages from these premium content providers, we’ve decided to allow publishers to limit the number of accesses under the First Click Free policy to five free accesses per user each day. This change applies to both Google News publishers as well as websites indexed in Google’s Web Search. We hope that this encourages even more publishers to open up more content to users around the world!”
The news comes after Murdoch announced that all his news websites shall be introduced with paywalls, as well as removing their content from Google. Most importantly, since the news that Murdoch is considering allowing search results on Microsoft’s search engine Bing.
Google’s Josh Cohen added “We’re going to keep talking with publishers to refine these methods. After all, whether you’re offering your content for free or selling it, it’s crucial that people find it. Google can help with that.”
Although Google are not enforcing the limits directly, this sudden change comes suspiciously, especially seeing as the site has come under fire recently (possibly put best by The Guardian). Could this be Google’s attempt to get back onto Murdoch’s good side?
One website already using a similar paywall policy to First Click Free is the UK’s Financial Times, who allow readers two articles before promoting them to subscribe to the website (currently for free).