Google to License AP Content

After losing ground to online news, traditional news-gatherer Associated Press (AP) signed an agreement to become part of a new service from Internet giant Google

Financial details were unavailable.

Google spokesperson Sonya Boralv said Google would license AP content to prepare for “new uses of original AP content for features and products we will introduce in the future.”

Questioned whether the agreement meant an enhanced Google News, Boralv merely emphasized the pact is for new uses of AP content.

Introduced in 2002, the Google News aggregation section became extremely popular, skimming the Internet for news stories and presenting users with a collection of headlines to choose from.

But it has run afoul of some news publications.

In 2005, Agency France Presse (AFP), France’s equivalent to the AP or Reuters, sued Google for $15 million, accusing Google News of infringing AFP’s copyright and cutting into circulation.

Google wouldn’t comment how the licensing agreement would change relationships with other content providers.

In a statement, Boralv said Google has “always believed that content providers and publishers should be fairly compensated for their work.”

AP spokesman Jack Stokes said the agreement will protect “our intellectual property and provide supplemental revenue to subsidize our newsgathering and other services.”

The agreement comes as traditional newspaper circulation continues to drop and online users increasingly turn to Internet sources such as Google News or Yahoo , according to one study by the Newspaper Association of America.

Google this week also announced its toolbar will be bundled with RealPlayer, as part of a multi-year agreement with RealNetworks .

The deal broadens an existing two-year agreement and gives users of the RealPlayer software, downloaded more than 2 million times per day, the choice of installing either a toolbar from Google or Mozilla, for the Firefox Web browser.

Users of the Rhapsody music service and RealArcade games will also have the option, according to the companies.

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