Peter Osnos, former Washington Post editor, former Random House publisher, now senior fellow at The Century Foundation, adds his voice to a smallish chorus that dare not sing loudly at the moment: Make Google pay, save the news in the process.
His argument, earlier raised in a piece he wrote for the foundation, is that Google is benefiting massively from the content it aggregates, ranks and distributes through search, iGoogle and other services. If it were to simply share revenue it derives from the advertising it places alongside the content, a substantial revenue stream would flow.
"Delivering the news is a great service that Google does exceptionally well. Now they should devise ways to pay for it."
There are counter-arguments, naturally, that Google has invested in a delivery system that benefits media by distributing work far more widely than ever anticipated.
Presumably media monetize that distribution through advertising, so why make a double-payment? Mark Potts, in his Recovering Journalist blog, takes on Osnos with some rather personal remarks amid his more philosophical argument that Google doesn't carry more than headlines. He's right: Google drives traffic to papers, many of which fail to capitalize on those found readers.
But the precedent of Google's recent settlement on the publishing frontier suggests there is some currency in Osnos' argument, so the time ahead will be interesting if the news business decides to jostle more seriously and not just mutter its disapproval.