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It was a key part in Google’s attempt to organise the world’s information – but the search giant has abandoned its ambitious plan to digitise hundreds of years of newspaper archives and make them available online.
After scanning millions of pages from more than 2,000 newspapers, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has called time on its five-year-old plan, focusing instead on helping publishers make money from the internet.
Google’s digitisation effort began with the New York Times (NYSE: NYT) and Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) in 2006, but expanded two years later to include hundreds of newspaper partners spanning more than 200 years.
The company insisted the change of plan is not due to copyright issues.
“We work closely with newspaper partners on a number of initiatives, and as part of the Google News Archives digitisation programme we collaborated to make older newspapers accessible and searchable online,” Google said in a statement.
“These have included publications such as the London Advertiser in 1895, L’Ami du Lecteur at the turn of the century, and the Milwaukee Sentinel from 1910 to 1995. Users can continue to search digitized newspapers at [Archive search], but we don’t plan to introduce any further features or functionality to the Google News Archives and we are no longer accepting new microfilm or digital files for processing.”
The digitisation of newspaper archives has proved controversial, with James Murdoch, the deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation (NSDQ: NWS), last year laying into plans by the British Museum to digitise more than 40m pages of newspaper content spanning a decade.
Google is now shifting its resources to helping publishers charge for new online content. In February, Google launched a payment platform for newspaper websites, dubbed One Pass.
It is not clear how many publishers plan to use Google’s payment system. Its launch was prompted by Apple’s rival payment plan and with online a small number of partners, including the Daily Mail (LSE: DMGT) publisher Associated Newspapers.
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.