Google has reportedly reached deals with several large UK news groups over carrying their content on Google News, according to Scotland's Sunday Herald.
The news follows Google's recent agreement with Belgium publishers, an agreement with the Associated Press and an out-of-court settlement with Agent France Presse. In each case Google made concessions (including licensing AP content) in order to be allowed to link to news stories through news.google.com.
Google and the tech community have long argued that Google doesn't violate any copyrights by scraping news sites and linking to their content. But after losing the Belgium case, Google has started to capitulate to news groups.
Google has never been shy about defending its interests in the courtroom. Some have even argued that Google bought YouTube in order to be the legal standard bearer when the company was inevitably sued. So why back down now?
A few reasons. The most important, in my estimation: Google relies on a constant stream of news to sell AdWords against. Blogs are one source. But blogs thrive on professional news. Google needs the news. And these days, as Google combines everything into universal search, Google needs those results to be in its main index, too. Imagine if Google didn't pay the publishers, and was forced to remove news results from its main index while the question went to court.
It's also more advantageous to pay in the short term while Google has its hands full with other lawsuits. No need to put every aspect of its biz model in the hands of lawyers at the same time.