The number of free news articles people can read through Google will be open to limitation by newspaper publishers, the company has announced. (photo, from bbc.co.uk)
The concession follows claims from some media companies that the search engine is profiting from online news pages.
Publishers can now prevent unrestricted access to subscription websites under the First Click Free programme. As a result, users who click on more than five articles in a day may be routed to payment or registration pages.
“Previously, each click from a user would be treated as free,” Google senior business product manager Josh Cohen said in a blog post.
“Now, we’ve updated the programme so that publishers can limit users to no more than five pages per day without registering or subscribing.”
Avoid paying subscription fees
Firms like Google had earlier been accused by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch of profiting from journalism by generating advertising revenue by linking readers to newspaper articles.
By calling up their pages via Google, some readers found out that they can avoid paying subscription fees to newspaper websites.
The concession was relatively minor but Mr Murdoch might see it as vindication of his decision to take on Google, said BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.
According to Cohen, Google users may start seeing registration pages appear when they click for a sixth time on any given day at websites of publishers using the program.