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In many ways, I love the French.
Whereas Kiwis are so laid back that it's actually harmful -- the French are prepared to riot in the streets at the drop of a hat -- and that ensures a healthy democracy.
However, in some regards, the French are just nuts.
Take the latest announcement by President Francois Hollande that his government is prepared to pass laws that would force Google to pay for the right to link to the content published on the web by its media organisations.
Obviously Mr Hollande has been to the Rupert Murdoch school of silly ideas and was this year's dux.
Surely someone who is given the massive responsibility of being the president of a populous and relatively powerful country such as France could do better than to completely mis-read the situation in the President obviously has.
I strongly suspect that he's had his lug-hole bent by lobbyists from the French media who have spied the opportunity to make a dollar or two by forcing Google to pay for a "right to link" to their stories.
Like every other website on the face of the Net, the French media's sites can be made a "no-go zone" to Google's bots by simply using a "robots.txt" file in the appropriate place and configuring that file to deny access.
So clearly it's not about the fact that the French media don't want to be indexed by Google and GoogleNews.
I strongly suspect that the operators of those media sites will have also pored over their server logs and seen that they are getting a decidedly worthwhile chunk of traffic from Google -- so they will know the value those listings represent.
In effect therefore, these companies want their cake and to eat it too.
Let me repeat myself: imbéciles!
Let me introduce another word for your consideration: dummkopf
Yes, that's right -- the French aren't the only nutcases on the block in Europe. It seems that Germany passed a law back in August which effectively prevents others from excerpting their content unless they obtain a license to do so. This flies in the face of the "fair use" rights of copyright law and commentators believe that sooner or later it will result in Google and/or bloggers being prosecuted under its provisions.
Need another word? Try: idiota.
Yes, that's right, in Brazil, 150 newspapers there have used their robots.txt files to deny Google access to their websites. Like the French and Germans, the Brazilian publishers believe they should be paid for any links to, or excerpts of, their content.
So could these be the start of a global move to shut-down Google's news service -- or at least to make the search-giant pay?
It's possible -- but Google's own figures indicate that it is processing about 4 billion click-throughs from its pages (1bn from news, 3bn from general search) to the news sites of various publishers each and every month.
That is a lot of traffic. Can any news site afford to ignore the traffic and revenue that represents?
Clearly some believe they can. Let's see if they still think the same way in a year or two's time.
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