“Google abandons master-plan to archive the world’s newspapers”

According to a blog story from the Boston Phoenix, “Google abandons master-plan to archive the world’s newspapers“:

Google told partners in its News Archive project that it would cease accepting, scanning, and indexing microfilm and other archival material from newspapers, and was instead focusing its energies on “newer projects that help the industry, such as Google One Pass, a platform that enables publishers to sell content and subscriptions directly from their own sites.”

While the ending of any innovative project, especially one that shares historical information with the public is always sad news, there is a positive side to this. The positives mentioned in the Boston Phoenix story are that Google will continue to support newspapers already scanned, indexed, and included within the Google News Archive, just without any new features, and most importantly that:

The deal Google struck with partner newspapers stipulated that, somewhere down the line, a paper could purchase Google’s digital scans of its content for a fee. That fee is now being waived, and Google is not only giving publishers free access to the scanned files, but also the rights to publish them with other partners. In essence, Google just scanned a huge chunk of the newspaper industry’s valuable long-tail content, and then handed it to the publishers.

This frees newspapers to partner with new institutions to develop new features for their historic archives and to ensure the long-term preservation of materials. For instance, the Library of Congress and NEH’s project, Chronicling America, started before the Google News Archive and is an ongoing program to digitize historical newspapers and ensure long-term free access and preservation for all of its contents. The work already done by Google is a great public benefit, made all the more so by allowing newspapers to partner and repurpose their content without restriction for even more impact.