Google Ending Unlimited Free Access To Subscription News

The days of bypassing subscription fees on Google News appear to be numbered now that Google has updated their First Click Free program. Publishers can now limit access to five articles per day before readers are routed to payment pages.

Previously, publishers had to make a choice between making their content less discoverable on Google or allowing unlimited access to subscription content via Google News. Naturally, many newspaper publishers who are struggling to survive the transition from print have criticized Google for profiting on their paid content—a point that is hard to argue. I don't agree with the business model, but publishers have a right to to deliver their content how they see fit without having to bow down to a search engine.

Still, it's just another sign that we are in for some negative changes to our online experience. As you may recall, Rupert Murdoch is front and center in this battle, and there has been some serious talk lately that Microsoft will attempt to pay him to delist his holdings from Google—setting an extremely bad precedent for how we might (or might not) access content online in the future. Blend that with the concept of a tiered internet or oppressive data caps and things start looking pretty bleak. [Google via BBC]