Google has taken a step towards reconciliation in its war with Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. The search engine has offered to give publishers a little more control over how users access their stories.
In a post on the Google News Blog, the company announced an update to its "First Click Free" software that currently allows publishers to limit users to only seeing one page before being asked to pay or subscribe. However, users can get around that by just accessing the site through a Google search each time.
The update allows a little more fine-grained control for publishers, letting them opt to limit users to five pages in total each day before registering or subscribing. It's unclear how "each user" will be defined - sorting by IP address would cause problems at large institutions, and limiting by Google Account would exclude the many users who don't have one.
Google has also offered to crawl, index and list in search rankings "preview" pages for stories, which contain the headline and first few paragraphs. Sites with this setup, or the aforementioned "five clicks" solution will be labelled as "subscription" in news listings, but otherwise treated like any other site.
Google says: "We're going to keep talking with publishers to refine these methods. After all, whether you're offering your content for free or selling it, it's crucial that people find it. Google can help with that".