The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) has announced that it intends to "challenge the exploitation of content" by search engines such as Google, MSN and Yahoo.
The Paris-based association, which represents 18,000 newspapers, is against the way search engines aggregate its members’ content and pictures without paying for the privilege.
Agence France Presse has already filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming the search giant offers its photos and stories without any permission.
While WAN admits that such aggregation and packaging can help customers of its members, it claims the search engines’ business models in large part are based on “taking content for free”.
Search engines generally do not break any copyright laws by providing links to stories, and WAN has not so far announced any legal strategy to fight its corner. WAN said it was exploring its options.
Advertisers are increasingly diverting cash to search engines which they would have previously spent with newspapers.
WAN president Gavin O'Reilly said, "The irony is that these search engines exist, largely, because of the traditional news and content aggregators and profit at their expense."